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Senior Staff Writer

27 million South Koreans affected by data breach

Aug 25, 20142 mins
CybercrimeData and Information SecurityIdentity Management Solutions

220 million records taken by criminals

South Korean authorities have revealed details surrounding massive data breach that impacts 27 million people aged 15-65. The compromised data comes from website registrations for various games and online gambling promotions, ringtone storefronts, and movie ticketing.

It’s being reported by local media that 16 people involved with the scheme were arrested, and that the full scope of the incident has victimized 70 percent of the population – leaving their personal information in the hands of criminals.

On Thursday, South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency said that a 24-year-old man (identified only by the surname of Kim) was arrested along with 15 others, for allegedly circulating 220 million records with PII.

The records included names, account names and passwords, and resident registration numbers. According to the police, Kim gained access to the compromised information from a Chinese hacker he met in an online game in 2011.

The information was used to seal in-game currency and other game-related items that could be sold offline for profit. In addition to targeting the games, Kim is also alleged to have sold the personal information to others, including scammers running a mortgage fraud ring. This led to other crimes that resulted in the loss of 2 billion Won.

In all, Kim is said to have earned $390,919 USD by selling off and using the compromised records. The cost per record item ranged from a minimum of $0.001 to a maximum of $20.

The investigation hasn’t been concluded, authorities are still searching for how the compromised records are being circulated. Moreover, they’re hunting for seven others tied to the scheme, including the Chinese hacker alleged to have originally given the information to Kim.

This isn’t the first time the people of South Korea have faced such a massive breach of personal information. In 2011, 35 million people – nearly the entire country – had personal information exposed after attackers compromised Cyworld, a South Korean social network, and the search engine Nate.

Earlier this year, 20 million South Koreans were impacted by a data breach caused by an employee of the Korea Credit Bureau, who copied their PII onto an external drive over a period of 18 months.