South Korea kills ActiveX-based government digital certificate service

Service was so unpopular, getting rid of it was an election policy

South Korea on Thursday shuttered a government-run digital certificate service that required the use of Microsoft’s ancient ActiveX technology.

Microsoft launched ActiveX way back in 1996 and it was effectively the company’s riposte to Java. An evolution of Microsoft’s COM (Component Object Model) and OLE (object linking and embedding), ActiveX made it possible to embed elements of other applications in a web page and even inside other apps by using an “ActiveX control” and a plug-in. The pre-.Net tech was Microsoft’s big mid-90s play for a cross-platform application delivery platform and lives in on technologies like

Until today it also lived on inside a digital certificate authority that South Korea’s government ran to secure government and financial services websites.

ActiveX was introduced to do the job in 1999, when it wasn’t the worst imaginable choice. But Microsoft has all-but walked away from ActiveX and its new Edge browser doesn’t support the tech. ActiveX controls have also become a vector for plenty of nasty exploits.

Game over greenscreen

COBOL-coding volunteers sought as slammed mainframes slow New Jersey's coronavirus response


South Korea knew it had an ActiveX problem way back in 2015, because even then the need to use ActiveX to do business on local websites irked outsiders.

For locals, the requirement to run the code was so annoying that getting rid of it became an election promise at the nation’s 2017 presidential election.

That promise has now been delivered: the nation’s Ministry of Science and ICT today annnouced the service’s planned demise.

South Korean websites will therefore no longer need to include ActiveX and individuals can ditch the plug-in. There’s also an economic pay-off: the nation’s tech firms can compete in a market for digital certificates unencumbered by a dominant government player. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Biden tours Samsung fab, talks chip cooperation with South Korea
    Factory is a model for one the company has planned in Texas

    US president Joe Biden kicked off his first Asian tour since taking office in South Korea, where he visited a Samsung semiconductor fab said to be the model for the company's planned plant in Taylor, Texas.

    While speaking at the Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus, Biden said the region will be a key part of the next several decades – a reason "to invest in one another to deepen our business ties.". 

    Much of the talk on Biden's five-day trip to South Korea and Japan will center around broader deepening of economic and business ties. In Pyeongtaek, however, the emphasis was on semiconductor cooperation. While touring the plant with recently elected South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol, Biden noted "these little chips are the key to propelling us into the next era of humanity's technological development."

    Continue reading
  • Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong in trouble again – this time over financial filings
    Fair Trade Commission concerned false paperwork took years to decipher

    Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong is in trouble – again – this time over false filings about the extent of his shareholdings.

    Korean law requires owners of large businesses to disclose details of affiliate companies they control, or in which family members have an interest. The requirements aim to prevent unfair cross-investment in "Chaebol" – giant industrial conglomerates in which founding families often retain ownership and/or influence. The nation's economy is unusually concentrated in such entities.

    Samsung is the largest Chaebol, and also the largest contributor to South Korea's economy. By some measures it accounts for 20 per cent of the nation's exports, stock exchange capitalization, and perhaps as much as 17 per cent of gross domestic product.

    Continue reading
  • Alibaba Cloud opens first South Korean datacenter
    Better late than never – all its global and Chinese hyperscale rivals are already there

    Alibaba Cloud has opened its first datacenter in South Korea.

    As is nearly always the case when hyperscalers expand their physical footprints, the company has said nothing about where the facility is located, or its capacity. Sadly, the company is also silent on whether it has brought its flagship immersion cooling to South Korea. It is also unclear if all Alibaba Cloud products, or a mere subset, are offered in South Korea. We've asked the company to clarify matters.

    One product that Alibaba has definitely deployed in South Korea is its "China Gateway" – a service that allows users to operate resources on Alibaba Cloud inside China with Alibaba assisting with local compliance chores, while maintaining secure and dedicated links to cloudy resources outside the Middle Kingdom. The service even offers the chance to rent office space from WeWork inside China, and to arrange local logistics. Alibaba Cloud suggests the service is a fine way for web-based businesses to enter China.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022