Korea’s Joongang Daily has reported that hackers have accessed 220 million data records of 27 million people. The South Jeolla Provincial Police Agency said they arrested a 24-year-old man, known only by surname Kim, as well as 15 others.
Kim is believed to have bought personal data of 220 million people, including the names, resident registration numbers, account names and passwords from a Chinese hacker he met in 2011. He is then thought to have used a hacking tool known as an “extractor” to use the personal information to steal online game currency. It is thought that he has made the equivalent of £235,000 for himself after giving a slice of the profits to the Chinese hacker that gave him the initial information.
Amichai Shulman, CTO Imperva, said that this shows monetising of personal information is still the main driver for data breaches like these, “attackers find many ways to monetise on stolen information. For this particular Korean individual it was hacking into online games and piling virtual currency that through some processes can be converted into real currency. For the Chinese individual it was selling the information to the Korean guy. One way or another, it seems that personal information is still relatively easy to monetise on and is therefore a valuable target for hackers.”
Shulman also suggested that this result wouldn’t have been an isolated attack, which suggests enterprises are not looking at the right part of the network. “While probably not taken from a single source in a single incident, the information sold by the Chinese can be attributed (with high certainty) to a small number of large breaches. It seems to indicate a lack of visibility in certain organisations with respect to data access patterns and the lack of visibility in general into data centre activity. In particular, the breach was probably unknown to these organisations until the apprehension of the suspect.”