Report: Breach exposes data of 35 million S. Koreans

More than half of South Korea's population could be at risk of phishing and spam after data breach.

Nate, a Web portal in South Korea, was affected by a hacking attack at SK Communications.
Nate, a Web portal in South Korea, was affected by a hacking attack at SK Communications.

Personal information of 35 million South Koreans has been compromised as a result of a hacking attack on the company that runs the country's biggest social network and a major Web search engine, according to reports.

SK Communications, which operates the Cyworld social-networking site and the Nate portal site, said today that the hacking and exposure of names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, resident registration numbers, and passwords, originated from malicious code that appeared to come from China, The Korea Herald reported.

"The company has confirmed that a leak of customers' information has taken place due to hacking on July 26," SK said in a statement quoted in the news report. "The specific scale of the hacking is still being investigated, but it is estimated that some of the personal information of 35 million Nate and Cyworld members has been leaked."

Cyworld is the biggest social-networking site, with 25 million users in a country with a population of nearly 49 million, and Nate is the third most popular Web search engine, according to the report. SK said it planned to set up a hotline to help people deal with spam and avoid falling for phishing scams that could result from the data breach.

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