South Korea to test grenade-launching drones

Back on terra firma, ransomware rampage sees elevated security threat levels and giveaways to SMBs

South Korea has this week announced two new weapons: grenade-launching drones for its military, and anti-ransomware software for businesses.

The nation's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has revealed that in 2022 South Korea will test grenade-launching drones that can be remotely controlled over a range of two kilometres, carrying gunpowder-filled 40mm shells. The operator uses optical and thermal imaging cameras and a laser range finder to shoot up to six consecutive shots, with two seconds between firing. A two-axis gimbal and a recoil absorber stabilize the equipment after firing.

A second drone – a small modular affair – weighs less than two kilograms and is intended for monitoring and reconnaissance. Operators can attach specialized kit – like optical and thermal imaging cameras, speakers, searchlight and laser rangefinders – depending on the purpose of the mission.

South Korea's also worried about cyber security, as the Ministry of Science and ICT raised the country’s cyber threat level assessment on Wednesday. The national spy agency raised the cyber threat for public institutions the day before.

The country-wide threat level was moved from the second-lowest of five tiers to the middle alert tier in response to increasing cyberattacks, including ransomware, targeting South Korea's COVID-19 relief funds. South Korea approved spending 34.9 trillion won (US$30.3B) on relief packages last month.

South Korea's Internet and Security Agency tallied reports of 78 ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021. By comparison, the agency noted 22 ransomware attacks for all of 2019, 39 in 2019 and 127 in 2020.

The government expects an increase in phishing attacks, and will expand monitoring of malware and other cyberthreats as well as response measures to the crimes.

On Thursday, the ICT Ministry announced extra support for small business – offering them data back-up, encryption and restoration systems. The government agency will also provide free anti-ransomware software to medical clinics as they continue to vaccinate the population.

The Ministry is also considering providing cyber security protection to the oil and self-driving vehicle industries. ®

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