SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- The authorities on Monday urged financial companies to tighten their data security systems against leaks following a massive release of confidential information at some credit card firms last week.
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) called into office more than 80 executives in charge of data and security management for an emergency meeting and asked for vigilance in protecting customers' data from unauthorized access.
"Information leakage does not only violate privacy but also undermines growth of the individual firm (responsible for the release) and the financial industry, which is why stern measures need to be further taken," FSS Deputy Gov. Choi Jong-ku told reporters ahead of the meeting.
The prosecution revealed last Wednesday a large-scale illegal distribution of personal data from three major credit card firms by an IT expert hired to upgrade their security systems.
A regional prosecutors' office in the southern city of Changwon pressed charges against a 39-year-old surnamed Park and two others for illegal obtainment and distribution of confidential data from KB Kookmin Card Co., NH Nonghyup Card Co. and Lotte Card Co.
Park is accused of stealing the client data -- altogether amounting to some 140 million cases -- and selling it to advertising agencies for 17 million won (US$16,086) from 2012 to 2013.
Shin Je-yoon, the chairman of the policymaking regulatory body, the Financial Services Commission, expressed deep concerns on the latest data leak at a regulator meeting with his top officials on Monday and asked them to draw up "concrete measures to prevent leakage of private data."
The FSS has launched an on-site inspection as of Monday on the three card firms and the Korea Credit Bureau, the credit information company that Park had worked for, vowing to take "a zero-tolerance approach" through severe disciplinary actions of those responsible.
The watchdog is also pushing to reinforce related regulations by having financial firms further restrict the access to client info depending on the staff's rank in the office, as well as to a third person from outside such as a subcontractor.
The FSS added that it will expand the probe in the next two months and check the security systems of other financial firms that have not been affected by the data leakage.
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