Early this week it was reported that an IT contractor working for a company called Korea Credit Bureau - which among other things manages credit ratings of consumers - copied the names, social security numbers, phone numbers, home and business addresses, bank account numbers and credit card information of 15 to 20 million South Koreans in an attempt to sell that information to third party marketing firms. The theft came to light when the contractor was arrested. It appears that managers at the firms that purchased the data were also arrested.
Some early reports are claiming over 100 million unique records were stolen - double the entire population of South Korea.
As most South Korean adults have multiple credit cards, the theft of data appears to have impacted about 30 to 40% of all South Koreans.
The data was stolen from 3 firms: NH NongHyup Card, Lotte Card and KB Kookmin Card. The thief managed to exploit a database connection to each firm and steal the data which was unencrypted. The thief simply copied the data to a USB stick and walked out the door. The firms had no knowledge of the theft until they were notified by investigators.
The Finance Ministry of South Korea is now considering fining the 3 firms for failing to take the necessary protections and measures to keep their customers' data secure and protected.
Reaction by consumers in South Korea thus far has been swift: NongHyup Card has reported over 300,000 customers have registered for new cards, and KB Kookmin Card and Lotte Card are reporting over 150,000 and 50,000 requests for new cards, respectively.
Reaction by the 3 targeted firms has also been swift: the Chief Executives of each company appeared earlier today at a press conference where they made a very prostrated public apology for the incident... and then resigned in shame.
A statement by Korea's national financial regulatory body, the Financial Services Commission, made it clear that "the credit card firms will cover any financial losses caused to their customers."
You can read more on this story in the English edition of the Korea Herald:<br/> http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140121000901<br/> http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140120001002