Regulator to toughen rules against hacking at financial firms

SEOUL, June 27 (Yonhap) -- The financial regulator will take tougher measures on chiefs of financial companies in the event of hacking attacks on their online network, its officials said Thursday, a move to prevent an unexpected breach of online security in the financial sector.

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) will look into more stringent penalties on heads of financial companies if a cyber attack takes place, possibly having the firm's chief executive suspended from his job, according to its officials, to take effect from November.

The regulator said it intends to give more responsibility to the firm's head for any failure in the online network system, as well as imposing a penalty on the person in charge of the work.

The FSC's move comes amid growing concerns that local banks' online network systems are exposed to potential cyber attacks around the globe. With the country's Internet penetration rate at the world's highest, a large-scale cyber hacking could result in a leakage of private information on individual online bank users from the banks' databases.

In late March, network systems at a few local banks, including Nonghyup Bank and Shinhan Bank, were hacked into by an unknown malware, although no personal information was leaked.

The latest series of cyber attacks on financial companies have prompted the regulator to bolster security in the online transaction system.

As part of a bid to improve online security, the FSC will also require financial firms to separate their internal and external networks to protect the database from a potential cyber threat.

Currently, only a few large banks, including Kookmin Bank, have set up separate systems, citing high costs.

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