|▲ On the 24th, Kim Bum-soo, head of Kakao, apologizes at the National Assembly's Parliamentary Audit on the service failure caused by the data center fire (Source: Maeil Economy)|
At 3:19 p.m. on the 15th, a fire broke out in the electric room on the third basement floor of the Pangyo Data Center at SK Co., Ltd. Three minutes later, at 3:22 p.m., the server service in the data center was turned off. Additionally from 3:30 p.m., errors began to occur in a number of Kakao apps and some Naver services, including Kakao's messenger application, "Kakao Talk." The fire was extinguished at 11:46 p.m. on the 15th, about eight hours later, and there were no casualties.
During the incident, many people who use Kakao-Talk had difficulty contacting others. In addition, users suffered great inconvenience due to obstacles in finance, shopping, and payment services in Kakao. Kakao taxi drivers who pay 35,000 won a month and use the Kakao T app, could not receive passengers, and self-employed people suffered a series of economic damage, such as disruption in their operations due to payment system failure. Naver's server was also located in the data center where the fire broke out, but Naver-related services were not severely disrupted and recovery was relatively quick. This shows that there is a problem with Kakao's backup system. Kakao explained in an apology, "We are separately backing up all data to various data centers in Korea and have a dualized system to respond to failures due to external situations," but it became useless in this emergency situation. As a result, it was pointed out that Kakao-Talk, which has established itself as a, "national messenger," with as many as 47.5 million monthly users, has abandoned its responsibility, compared to its rapidly growing size.
The Kakao accident showed that infrastructure failures lead to the collapse of the entire country's telecommunication network, financial payment network, and the Internet, which could be a great harm to the people's daily lives, as well as national security and the national economy. The vulnerability of a hyperconnected society symbolized by SNS, including Kakao-Talk, has been revealed. In addition, it proved the lesson that many advances in the world made by the development of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) could become sandcastles and disasters in a hyperconnected society based on ICT without countermeasures against disasters. In the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the communication system is a national security facility, directly related to national security and people's lives. Kakao should not only identify the exact cause, but also come up with measures to prevent accidents, including redundancy of data centers, and countermeasures in case of accidents. In addition, the system to prevent recurrence should be drastically reorganized by thoroughly reviewing the situation, and all efforts should be made to properly compensate for losses to service victims in time. In the case of global IT companies in other countries, they conduct response training assuming extreme situations in which ICT systems such as data centers are paralyzed due to large-scale power outages. Not only Kakao, but also many Korean companies should seek ways to reorganize their manuals for emergencies and conduct disaster and cyber attack response drills. Meanwhile, attention from the national side is also needed. The current government has started to come up with supplementary measures along with quick support for handling accidents, emphasizing that they recognize the situation very strictly. On the 15th, President Yoon Suk Yeol said, "Network disruption not only causes considerable damage to people's livelihoods but also causes fatal problems for national security in case of an emergency." In the wake of the accident, it is necessary to discuss again the issue of enacting and revising related laws that stipulate the responsibility of the state's management and supervision, which had been canceled due to opposition from Internet companies.
Although it is said to be a hyperconnected society, the public is realizing what happens when a part of the link suddenly breaks. A hyper-connected society that can use most of the convenience services provided by the government, as well as the private sector with Kakao or Naver ID, can degenerate into a platform-dependent society where everything is paralyzed at once. The government and the National Assembly should take thorough measures to prevent this from happening again in the wake of the accident, which revealed the vulnerability of data management.
By Seo Ji-min, cub-reporter email@example.com
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