KT ramps up measures to safeguard users’ privacy

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KT ramps up measures to safeguard users’ privacy

Hit by a recent cyberattack, KT on Friday unveiled measures to prevent further information leaks.

“We sincerely apologize to our customers and the general public for causing concern in the wake of the hacking attack,” said Pyo Hyun-myung, president of the nation’s No. 2 mobile carrier, at a press conference on Friday. “KT will be reborn as a trusted company by enhancing security systems.”

KT announced five measures to step up its security system. Among these, it will make its sales management system inaccessible on regular PCs. The company also plans to develop virtual desktop infrastructure solutions to limit access to the network.

It will also adopt a real-time monitoring system to keep track of various activities related to collecting people’s information. Customers will be informed of how their personal information stored in the mobile operator’s database is being utilized.

Nine people have been arrested for hacking into KT’s network and selling the stolen data, the National Police Agency’s cyberterror response center said at the end of July. Two were professional hackers who developed a program to penetrate KT’s customer database. The other seven were employees at KT stores who used the leaked data for telemarketing purposes.

The suspects were accused of leaking personal information of about 8.7 million mobile phone subscribers from February until recently.

The number of KT subscribers stands at 17.4 million, accounting for nearly half of the total mobile phone users in Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world.

The telemarketers used the data, which contained subscribers’ resident registration numbers, phone numbers and monthly plans, among other data, to contact customers whose contracts were about to expire, or who were considered likely to change their phone plans.

Police estimated that the suspects earned at least 1 billion won ($877,000) from the illegal marketing.

KT, which came under public attack for not responding to calls for compensation, said it was not aware of the hacking attack until early July. Pyo said the company will give financial help to customers who suffered secondary damage from the hacking.

More than 40,000 people have signed up for a class-action lawsuit against KT as of Friday. Pyeonggang, a local law firm, said last week that around 32,000 people have submitted applications to join the suit as of Aug. 5.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]
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