Two hackers accused of stealing the names, phone numbers, and residential registration numbers of 8.7 million mobile users were arrested on Sunday by South Korean authorities, according to AFP.
The company targeted in the attack, KT, the second biggest mobile telephony operator in South Korea, had reported the incident to the police on July 13. The illegal accessing of customersâ€™ data had apparently gone on for five months before KT caught on.
“The number of affected people account for nearly a half of about 17 million customers of ours,” a KT spokesman said in an exclusive statement for AFP.
One of the attackers used to work for a local IT company as a senior programmer, Yonhap news agency reported, citing police sources. Together with his accomplice, he is alleged to have made at least $800,000 by selling the stolen data to telemarketing operators.Â Seven beneficiaries of this trade are also in custody.
“We deeply bow our head in apology for having your precious personal information leaked… we’ll try our best to make such things never happen again,” read KTâ€™s statement after the incident.
This attack adds to a series of major data breaches that affected several of South Koreaâ€™s main web sites. In July 2011, web portal Nate.com and social network Cyworld, both owned by SK Communications, were hacked and attackers reportedly gained illegal access to the personal data of more than 35 million users.Â In November, last year, Nexon Korea online gamers were hacked and 13,2 million subscribersâ€™ personal data were leaked.