Time for an IT overhaulA police investigation on Korea’s second-largest oil refiner, GS Caltex, revealed that the private information of more than 11 million customers has been leaked.
It is yet another incident in a ceaseless series of accidents and inconveniences on mobile phones and e-mails such as spam text messages, unlicensed loan advertisements, voice phishing and money stolen electronically from bank accounts. Even though Korea boasts of being the world’s leading IT nation, with the world’s highest rates of Internet and computer use, this debacle has confirmed yet again that Korea is one of the least developed nations in terms of Internet security.
The suspects reportedly said they judged that the information was highly valuable, given that there are several legal claims against firms for damages resulting from the leak of private information going on.
This is a major reason why 20-something staff members of the company would risk their promising futures to be involved in such a coordinated and systematic crime.
The number of cases involving leaked information is building up. An e-commerce company, from which information about more than 10 million customers was stolen by a hacker, is currently tangled in a legal dispute with thousands of customers. A civic group is filing a complaint against 10 online companies charged with handing customer information over to other companies. Police have booked 20 staff members at a leading communications company on charges of giving information on millions of customers to a telemarketing company.
Civil lawsuits in all these cases are underway or scheduled.
Companies that deal with online transactions involving millions of customers should overhaul their lackadaisical management styles and poor oversight of Internet security systems.
A company that is eager to gather customer information to simplify work processes, but neglects its duties on the protection of private information should be held accountable. Companies should further strengthen ethics training programs for employees and examine their own security networks.
The government should strengthen penalties for illegal spam advertisers. It should also promote legal measures to minimize gathering of private information and encourage the use of an alternative means to replace identification numbers.
Privacy is a basic human right. In the Internet era, private information should be protected online as much as offline.