SK Communications Co., parent company of South Korea's largest social networking site, Cyworld, and third largest search engine, Nate, announced on Thursday that the accounts of its 35 million online users were compromised as a result of hacking activities.
The company confirmed that the attack had been traced to a malicious code apparently coming from an IP address in China, but couldn't identify who was behind the attack.
Although a spokesman from SK communications revealed that all personal information leaked, such as names, passwords, emails, home addresses, as well as telephone and id numbers, were encrypted in high technological code, he didn't leave out the possibility of them being decoded and urged users to change passwords and other basic information.
The spokesman continued by sharing, "Unlike previous incidents, this one is notable as we expect portals to have a very high level of security. Moreover, SK Communications is the operator of one of the country’s three biggest portals." Notable as it sounds, in America the equivalent of such breach could be compared to hackers penetrating and stealing information from Yahoo.
South Korean businesses have been a frequent target for hackers in recent years.
Popular sites known for business and commercial activities, such as Auction, Hyundai Capital, Shinsegae Mall, and GS Caltex have all had private user information stolen by hackers.
In the case of Nate and Cyworld, Korean regulators believe that the stolen information would most likely result in increased junk or spam mail and at the same time be used by voice phishing scammers to make fraudulent calls posing as the police or bank officials possessing the user's private information to trick users to deposit money into bank accounts.
Korean officials have begun investigating such breach and may request the aid of Chinese intelligence officials to carry the investigation further in broader scale. However, no cooperation with Chinese officials has yet been announced.