KT told to pay damages to 100 clients for data leak

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KT told to pay damages to 100 clients for data leak

The Seoul Central District Court on Friday ordered KT to compensate 100 clients 100,000 won ($90) each for causing “psychological pain” in 2012, when the personal information of 8.7 million clients of the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier was leaked by hackers.

“For five months, KT failed in its duty to take caution for blocking the leak of personal information,” the judge said.

“[The clients’] resident registration numbers - very crucial personal data that can’t be changed - were leaked,” the judge continued, adding that the private information “might further be used for telemarketing purposes.”

“There’s a high possibility that the victims will receive spam messages or calls,” the judge said. “KT must compensate for that psychological pain.”

KT did not issue a statement regarding the verdict on Friday.

The case dates back to July 2012, when a cyber terror response team at the National Police Agency said it had arrested two hackers for penetrating KT’s customer database and selling data from 8.7 million mobile phone subscribers from February that year.

Police officers at that time stated that the hackers earned at least 1 billion won by selling the data to telemarketers, who then called customers to sell their services. Seven other KT store employees were apprehended for their involvement in the plot.

KT immediately apologized for that hacking scheme and vowed to strengthen its internal security system, but failed to take the initiative for compensation measures.

It remains unclear weather KT will appeal Friday’s verdict, but reflecting on past cases, it is likely so.

The Seoul Central District Court in August ruled in favor of some 28,000 KT users, ordering the mobile carrier to compensate 100,000 won to each customer for the same 2012 data leak.

However, KT promptly appealed the case, saying that the attack was “inevitable” and that it will make up for it by adopting sufficient precautionary measures.

An investigation led by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning found in March that hackers had accessed KT’s website more than 12 million times over the first three months of this year, infiltrating the network as many as 341,000 times per day.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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