A data breach in South Korea appears to have impacted as many as 27 million citizens, roughly 70 percent of the nation’s population.
Authorities with the South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency announced late last week that it had apprehended a 24-year-old, known simply as Kim, in addition to 15 others connected to the breach.
Officials claim that the 16 individuals illegally circulated the information which pertains to millions of South Koreans between the ages of 15 and 65.
Police claim Kim acquired the information, 220 million records in total, from a Chinese hacker he met online in 2011. That hacker allegedly stole it from online registrations from online game, movie ticketing and ringtone download sites.
The information contains individuals’ names, resident registration numbers, account names and passwords.
According to the English version of a Seoul-based daily newspaper, the Korea Joongang Daily, Kim was able to earn 400 million won ($390,919) by hacking into six video games using the stolen information. Kim purportedly gave the Chinese hacker whom he initially acquired the information from a $130,000 cut of the money.
Authorities claim Kim went on to sell the information to “mortgage fraud swindlers” and “illegal gambling advertisers” for 10 to 300 won, or a fraction of a U.S. dollar. Those swindlers and advertisers duped hundreds of South Koreans between September 2012 and November 2013.
Officials claim they’re continuing to look into the incident and are in the middle of pursuing seven other suspects.
In 2011, South Korea’s largest provider of Internet services and mobile access was hit with a data breach that went on to compromise the data of up to 35 million users. Individuals’ names, email addresses and other data were leaked when SK Telecom’s Cyworld was hit by an attack from an IP address in China.
A subsequent breach at telecommunications company KT Corp this year leaked the personal information of 12 million citizens. The breach persisted for over a year without being detected and let hackers siphon off 300,000 records a day.