Wake-up call on online trading

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Wake-up call on online trading

An identified hacker has stolen the personal information of 420,000 Hyundai Capital clients, more than 20 percent of its customers. It is shocking to learn that the computer system of the country’s biggest motor lease and financing company, which prides itself on having tight security, has been exposed to hacking.

Personal client data has been leaking out for two months but the company had been oblivious until it received an e-mail on Thursday from the hacker, who asked for a payoff in return for withholding the data. Hyundai Capital belatedly learned that it had lost data on about a quarter of its 1.8 million clients.

The company released a statement the following day but it spent more than a day in meetings, deciding not to alert its clients or the public about the massive security breach to prevent further losses and damage. The police discovered that financial details as well as the names and addresses of clients had been stolen.

Hyundai Capital’s chief executive, Chung Tae-young, quickly returned from a business trip in Norway and held a press conference apologizing for the accident and promising to take account of the company’s responsibility. But the affair cannot be sealed with a simple apology because the accident is more or less a betrayal of its customers’ trust.

Chung has been regarded as one the most promising and innovative Korean CEOs for the last decade. He recreated the corporate brand names of Hyundai Capital and Hyundai Card through stringent risk management and promotion of state performances and sports events featuring the world’s top artists and athletes.

The two nonbanking financial companies are one of the soundest with Hyundai Card’s 30-day default ratio at 0.4 percent and Hyundai Capital’s at 1.7 percent, as of the third quarter last year.

But its risk management may have been solely centered on the company’s financial sheets and not customers’ security, in view of the latest incident.

Some also suspect the company may have been too engrossed in enlarging the company and paid less attention and investment in ensuring security.

The financial authorities must get to the bottom of the privacy breach. Customers are jittery knowing their personal information is vulnerable to online predators. The recent incident at Hyundai Capital at the very least should serve as a wake-up call on the risk and dangers of the online financial system.
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