One in two South Koreans have had personal information stolen in a massive hack of the nation’s biggest social networking site and a popular local search engine.
SK Communications, which owns Cyworld and search engine Nate said it was attacked by suspected Chinese hackers this week who made off with data on a whopping 35 million users.
The stolen data allegedly included names, phone numbers, email addresses, and “high level” encrypted passwords and resident registration numbers.
SK Communications said that member password and resident registration numbers were protected through high-level encryption.
The company planned to set up a hotline for handling the hacking incident to stem secondary damage in the form of voice phishing and spam mail.
“The company has confirmed that a leak of customers’ information has taken place due to hacking,” the company told The Korea Herald.
“The specific scale of the hacking is still being investigated, but it is estimated that some of the personal information of 35 million Nate and Cyworld members have been leaked.”
Cyworld is home to 25 million users or about half of South Korea’s population.
SK Communications alleged the malicious code originated in China. South Korea's Cyber Terror Response Centre, which was investigating the incident, had not confirmed the allegation.
South Korea’s networks were subject to regular large hacking and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from sources often claimed to originate from China and North Korea.
In April, the country's National Agricultural Cooperative Federation was hacked in May by suspected North Korean hackers while a massive DDoS attack hit websites owned by prominent companies in July 2009.