20 million people fall victim to South Korea data leak; FSS calls on financial institutions to improve protections against insider leaks

AFP reports:

The personal data of at least 20 million bank and credit card users in South Korea has been leaked, state regulators said Sunday, one of the country’s biggest ever breaches.

Many major firms in the South have seen customers’ data leaked in recent years, either by hacking attacks or their own employees.

In the latest case, an employee from personal credit ratings firm Korea Credit Bureau (KCB) has been arrested and accused of stealing the data from customers of three credit card firms while working for them as a temporary consultant.

Seoul’s financial regulators on Sunday confirmed the total number of affected users as at least 20 million, in a country of 50 million.

The stolen data includes the customers’ names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers and expiration dates, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said in a statement.

The employee later sold the data to phone marketing companies, whose managers were also arrested earlier this month, prosecutors and the FSS said.

The information was taken from the internal servers of KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card and NH Nonghyup Card.

Read more on AFP. There is no statement about today’s news on FSS’s website at this time.  On January 13, however, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) had a meeting with financial company executives in charge of the safety and security of customer data. At the meeting, about 90 Chief Information Security Officers and Chief Privacy Officers were present (see press release).

The AFP report also mentions earlier incidents, including one from last month involving Citibank Korea that I was not previously aware of. In researching that one, I found this article that explains:

The South Korean prosecutors’ office said in a Dec. 11 statement it arrested an employee of “Bank C” for leaking information on 34,000 clients, including details of lending contracts.

Citibank Korea confirmed in an e-mail yesterday that it was “Bank C.” The Seoul-based unit conducted its own investigation at the FSS’ request following the arrest, it said, without elaborating on the results of the probe.

And Korea Times reported:

The employee at Citibank printed the data of 34,000 customers on 1,100 pieces of paper and gave them to private loan service providers in April, while the worker at SC’s subcontracted IT center accessed the computer files of the lender, transferred the personal data of about 104,000 customers onto a portable storage device between November 2011 and February 2012 and sold it to a broker.

The prosecution said the leaked information includes customers’ names, phone numbers, their employers and the amount of any outstanding loans, which are also suspected of being used in a voice-phishing scam.


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