A major provider of Internet services and mobile access in South Korea has been hit by one of the larger data breaches in recent history, resulting in the compromise of personal information belonging to as many as 35 million users. The attack on SK Telecom’s Cyworld site reportedly came from an IP address in China and resulted in the loss of users’ names, email addresses and other data.
A statement from the Korea Communications Commission said that the attack occurred Tuesday and that some of the user data was encrypted, but not all of it. The attack reportedly targeted users of the Cyworld portal, which is one of South Korea’s larger social and media sites, as well as the Nate site, which is a provider of email and other Web services. Both of the sites are owned and operated by SK Telecom.
South Korean government agencies and private enterprises have been the target of frequent attacks in recent months, and the country’s government often points the finger at China as the culprit. There have been recent attacks on South Korean banks and government agencies, but this attack is likely to turn out to be the largest one in the nation to date.
The Korea Herald, an English-language newspaper in South Korea, said that SK Telecom’s chief executive issued a statement about the attack on Thursday.
“Concerning this incident, we offer our apology to our customers and
have taken all the necessary measures to minimize the impact and
identify the cause and retrieve customer information in cooperation with
the authorities,” the paper reported that CEO Joo Hyung-chul said in a statement.
The paper also reported that the country’s police force and its Cyber Terror Response Center would investigate the attack.
South Korea had a population of roughly 48 million people as of 2010, so the compromise at Cyworld and Nate affects a huge segment of the country’s citizenry.