South Korean Company Hack Highlights Cybercriminals' Growing Sophistication

Antone Gonsalves July 31, 2012
Hacking program that penetrated phone company's defenses was undetected for five months.

Hackers evaded discovery for five months after breaking into the computer systems of a major South Korean phone company, a sign that cybercriminals' evasive techniques are growing more sophisticated, security experts say.

South Korean police on Sunday reported the arrest of two people suspected of hacking into the network of KT Corp., the country's second largest wireless operator. Seven others who allegedly bought stolen KT data were also charged, the Yonhap News Agency reported

Hackers apparently broke into KT's computer systems in February and siphoned off the personal data of 8.7 million customers before the company reported the breach to police on July 13. Investigators have accused the suspects of earning at least $880,000 from selling the stolen data to telemarketing operators. Such information is used to try and convince people to switch phone providers as their contracts near expiration.

"Information is highly valuable, and these adversaries are mining for all they can get," James Walter, security researcher for Intel-owned McAfee, said in an email Monday about data-stealing hackers.