KT’s website hacked; data of 12 million jeopardized

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KT’s website hacked; data of 12 million jeopardized

The website of Korea’s major telecommunications company KT was found to have been hacked yesterday, leaking the personal data of approximately 12 million clients, including account holders’ resident registration numbers and bank account information.

The Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency arrested two professional hackers and the CEO of a telemarketing company suspected of hacking the system and using the information in the sale of mobile phones.

The three suspects have allegedly developed a new hacking program, using the Paros program since February 2013 until last month, and hacked into KT’s website to obtain the personal information. KT was not aware that its website had been compromised over the past year.

The police arrested the three suspects on Feb. 25 and are currently expanding their probe, investigating the company’s security personnel and looking into whether KT neglected its duties in managing its clients’ personal information.

This is the third time since March 2012 that a similar hacking episode has compromised KT’s website.

In March 2012, the personal data of almost 200,000 clients from SK Telecom and KT was compromised when employees at the two companies’ subsidiaries diverted and sold customers’ personal location information to telemarketers by using a hacking program capable of sorting through that data.

Similarly, in July 2012, just four months later, KT’s system was hacked again, compromising the personal data of 8.7 million users.

This current violation is similar to the July 2012 information leak, when professional hackers seized account holders’ personal data by hacking KT’s customer sales system, selling the information to telemarketing companies. At the time, KT said it would establish an organization dedicated to security and implement an operating system with anti-hacking properties by the third quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2013 as part of an effort to counter the attacks.

In addition, it also announced that it would introduce a new monitoring system on the company’s customer center website that detects and analyzes inquiries or searches related to personal information.

KT said late yesterday that it will actively cooperate with the police in their investigation and increase efforts to minimize damage to customers.

“We have not yet confirmed the exact number of clients whose personal data has been leaked and are waiting for the police investigation,” said a spokesman for KT. “We plan to confirm the facts by cooperating closely with the police.”

KT is set to create a task force equipped to prevent secondary damage caused by this crisis.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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