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S. Korea leader urges protection of client data

11 april 2011, 12:22
Photo courtesy of www.topnews.in
Photo courtesy of www.topnews.in
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak called Monday for strict protection of personal information after a hacker broke into the computer system of a major financial firm and stole customers' data, AFP reports.

"As society becomes more information-oriented, protection of personal information is ever more important," Lee told a meeting of senior aides, according to his office.

Hyundai Capital, a financial arm of South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor, called in police last Thursday after an email from the hacker demanded a payoff.

The firm transferred 100 million won ($92,250) to an account designated by the hacker, Yonhap news agency said, adding police had acquired CCTV footage showing a man withdrawing money from a Seoul ATM.

So far the hacker had withdrawn 47 million won, it said.

A Hyundai Capital spokeswoman confirmed money was transferred but declined to confirm details of the Yonhap report.

"After consultations with police, our company sent money to an account designated by the hacker. It's aimed at helping investigators to track the hacker," she said.

Hyundai Capital has about 1.8 million customers and specialises in personal loans, home mortgages and auto financing.

The company said Sunday that it had lost personal data on 420,000 customers such as names, residential registration numbers, mobile phone numbers and email addresses.

About 13,000 passwords also appeared to have been hacked from customers' loan accounts, it said, asking those affected to change their passwords.

Police said more than one hacker was believed to be involved in the case, which prompted South Korean financial firms to conduct security checks on their computer systems.

They said hackers might have used servers in the Philippines and Brazil to gain access to Hyundai Capital's computer.

The Financial Supervisory Service said it would launch a special probe.

South Korea is one of the world's most wired societies, with 95 percent of homes using broadband Internet.

In March last year authorities launched a probe into the security systems of major retailer Shinsegae and 24 other companies after private data on 20 million customers was leaked.

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