Prevent secondary leaks

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Prevent secondary leaks

Interpark, Korea’s popular online shopping mall, apologized for a massive leak in personal information that included the names, emails, home addresses and phone numbers of its users. It’s hard to understand why Korean companies obsessively demand and collect personal data when they obviously lack the ability to protect it.

Police said information on 10.30 million customers — half of the shopping mall’s subscribers — was hacked and stolen in early May. The online commerce site only learned of the theft a few weeks ago after the hacking group demanded 3 billion won ($2.65 million) in untraceable bitcoins. The hackers had planted malware on the company system by emailing an employee to dig into the main corporate database.

The company issued a statement apologizing for failing to protect customers’ information. It claimed that registration numbers and financial information remained intact because they are encoded with security numbers.

But individuals could fall victim to various financial scams when their personal information floats around. After all, people still complain of damages after information on more than 100 million customers of KB Kookmin Bank and NH Bank was leaked in 2014. If criminals get their hands on travel plans and home addresses, they could use this information for burglary and other offline crimes.

Interpark announced the theft 10 days after it became aware of it. It explained that it was working on damage control with police, but it changed users’ terms of agreement to shift accountability onto subscribers in protecting their information. The government merely advised users to change their security numbers.

In the digital age, private information is connected to individual safety and assets. The government and companies must come up with effective measures to ensure the protection of personal information. They also need to work to minimize damages and inconvenience. We have seen little progress despite repeated hacking incidents. How much more damage do people have to endure before real changes take place?

JoongAng Ilbo, July 27, Page 30
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