National employment platform faces legal challenges for data breach

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Sep. 25, 2023 7:55PM GMT+9

A hacking incident that exposed the private data of 230,000 users on the national employment platform is taking a new turn, as one of the affected individuals has opted to pursue legal action.

On Monday, South Korean lawmaker Kim Young-jin revealed that the Korea Employment Information Service (KEIS) is now embroiled in a legal showdown following a data breach on the state-run employment platform, Work-Net.

In July, the KEIS revealed that its national employment platform fell victim to a cyberattack. Hackers managed to unlawfully access the resumes of 236,572 users, allegedly exposing personal details such as names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and employment histories. The employment agency believes that the breach was the result of credential stuffing, a tactic where attackers attempt to infiltrate accounts using previously compromised information.

In a document provided to the lawmaker’s office by the KEIS, it was revealed that shortly after the hacking incident took place, one user initiated legal action against the public agency, seeking compensation for the exposure of their personal data. The employment agency verified to The Readable that they are gearing up for the impending legal battle. However, the spokesperson from the agency noted that they could not divulge further details due to the active nature of the case.

Victims are also turning to the nation’s privacy watchdog for recourse. The lawmaker noted that 19 affected users approached the Personal Information Protection Commission’s dispute mediation committee between July and August, seeking compensation for their damages. This committee endeavors to settle personal information-related disputes outside of the courtroom. If both parties consent to the committee’s resolution, its decision carries the same legal weight as a court ruling, in accordance with the country’s privacy legislation.

The Personal Information Protection Commission confirmed to The Readable that they have received inquiries concerning the Work-Net data breach. However, the privacy watchdog clarified that they could not disclose additional specifics about the case at this time.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.