Phone Hackers Blackmail Celebrities

  • By Pyo Tae-jun, Hwang Ji-yoon

    January 09, 2020 13:02

    Several celebrities have been blackmailed by hackers threatening to expose personal information on their smartphones. Their personal data including photos and text messages were apparently stolen from Samsung's Cloud storage.

    The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency is investigating phone hacking reports from actor Joo Jin-mo and several other celebrities.

    Entertainment news website Dispatch reported that a celebrity chef, a singer and 10 other well-known people have fallen victim to the hackers, who first send samples of stolen personal information and demand W50 million to W1 billion (US$1=W1,178).

    Joo Jin-mo

    Some of the victims apparently paid up, but Joo did not, which resulted in some of his text messages being sent to gossip outlets.

    The victims had all used Samsung smartphones, and Samsung's Cloud storage space is accessible via one password as long as users do not set up additional safety measures.

    Security experts said the hackers probably stole the identities and passwords from websites that are vulnerable to information theft since many of the victims used the same ID and passwords for different logins.

    Some experts believe Chinese hackers may be behind the attack because the blackmail messages contain repeated errors in certain Korean words.

    A police spokesman said the hackers threaten to leak all the stolen information if victims go to the police, so some may not come forward and it is difficult to assess the real extent of the damage.  

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