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‘GS Caltex Data Leak Was Inside Job’

Posted September. 08, 2008 08:27,   


Employees of a GS Caltex affiliate orchestrated the largest leak of personal data in the country’s history, police said yesterday.

The cyber crime department of the National Police Agency said, “We rounded up four employees of the GS Caltex call center as suspects Saturday and requested arrest warrants for three of them.”

○ Motive was money

The main suspect “Jeong” was arrested on charges of illegally downloading onto his personal computer the personal data of 11.19 million subscribers to the GS Caltex Bonus Card between mid-July and the end of last month by accessing the database of GS Caltex customers. He then uploaded the information onto DVDs.

He reportedly told police, “I thought the value of the information would greatly go up if the data leak received media coverage. I intended to sell the information to companies after informing reporters of the leak.”

Jeong allegedly teamed up with his high school friend “Wang” July 10 and downloaded names, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of GS Caltex customers onto his office computer. He then asked a colleague “Bae,” who was not arrested, to organize the data in Microsoft Excel files.

Jeong then put the information onto DVDs Aug. 29 and handed them over to Wang, who passed them on to his friend “Kim,” who faces arrest.

Asked to inform reporters of the leak, Kim told a reporter of a free newspaper and a TV producer Tuesday in a Seoul restaurant that he accidentally found the DVDs in a trash heap near Gangnam subway station. He copied the DVDs beforehand with his computer and gave them to those at the meeting.

○ Additional leaks?

GS Caltex asked for a police investigation immediately after the leak made headlines Friday. After finding no traces of hacking on the database, police concluded that the crime was an inside job and investigated employees with access to the data.

“After the leak made headlines, Jeong immediately replaced the hard disk on his PC at work. Nobody stopped Jeong even when he downloaded the information dozens of times, put them onto DVDs, and replaced the hard disk of his office computer,” a police source said.

GS Caltex was thus completely unaware of the leak until the suspects told reporters.

“The suspects had five original DVDs and gave them to those at the meeting Tuesday. We will recover them and see if more copies are floating around. At the same time, we have continued our investigation on if the information was leaked outside even partially,” the source said.

Questions also remain over why the suspects tipped the reporters themselves. “The suspects testified that they thought media coverage of the leak would raise demand for the stolen information. We will continue investigating to find the specific motive,” the source said.