class action suit-network hacking

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Two consumer advocacy groups may lodge class action suits against local financial institutions whose networks were paralyzed this week due to massive cyber attacks, industry sources said Friday.

The Financial Consumer Agency and the Korea Finance Consumer Federation are seeking to file class action suits against Shinhan Bank, NongHyup Bank, Jeju Bank and two insurers as their customers underwent inconveniences due to the hacking attacks, according to the sources.

On Wednesday, computer networks at Korea's major broadcasters, banks and insurers were shut down due to malicious codes, halting financial services and crippling operations for hours.

The agencies have received cases of financial damage from bank customers since Thursday and may seek to lodge class action suits if they fail to arbitrate with those financial institutions, they said.

This is the second time that NongHyup was hit by hackers' attacks, the first instance occurring in April 2011 when customers' personal data were stolen and online banking transactions were crippled. The consumer groups agreed to settle the compensation issue with NongHyup Bank in 2011.

This week's cyber attacks appear to be all the more serious as South Korea's No. 3 bank Shinhan Bank was helplessly vulnerable to hackers, analysts say.

As operations of the financial institutions were also recovered about two hours after the attacks, it is not clear whether a class action suit could be filed, industry watchers said.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>