[Weekend Briefing] Artificial intelligence and blurred lines

By Dain Oh, The Readable
Aug. 4, 2023 9:05PM GMT+9 Updated Aug. 4, 2023 9:15PM GMT+9

“Weekend Briefing” is a weekly newsletter that is sent to The Readable’s subscribers every Friday. Journalists for The Readable select important news stories from the previous week. Topics encompass privacy, cybercrime, and policy development in cybersecurity. There are no costs involved with a subscription, and some content, such as industrial reports, is only available to those who subscribe to our newsletters.

Hello! This is Dain Oh reporting from South Korea. A crucial event unfolded this week that has brought attention to the impact of artificial intelligence technology on our society. An individual stands accused of generating explicit content involving minors through the use of AI, and South Korean prosecutors have formally charged him under the child protection act. This marks a milestone as it is the first instance of law enforcement in South Korea taking legal action in such a context. Coverage of this event was provided by Kuksung Nam, shedding light on the intricacies of the case. In a separate development, the national privacy agency has announced the establishment of a team dedicated to addressing data protection concerns related to AI. In this briefing, I have provided an overview of this news story.

In the upcoming week, The Readable has exciting plans to be on-site at Anaheim and Las Vegas, providing comprehensive coverage of three remarkable events in the realm of information security: USENIX, Black Hat, and DEF CON. Due to the intensive schedule of these events, our usual weekend briefing will be delivered to our readers’ inboxes on Sunday, as opposed to the customary Friday. Our platform will feature daily news articles pertaining to these events, beginning from Wednesday. Be sure to stay tuned and catch our detailed insights. Have a wonderful weekend!

1. Korean man charged for creating AI-generated child pornography

Designed by Sangseon Kim, The Readable

South Korean prosecutors have formally pressed criminal charges against an individual accused of utilizing cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to produce explicit content involving minors.

On Wednesday, the Busan District Prosecutors Office announced the indictment of a man in his forties for alleged violations of the act on the protection of children and youth against sex offenses, which occurred on August 1. In accordance with the country’s legal framework, the individual could potentially face a sentence of life imprisonment or a minimum of five years in prison for the production of explicit content involving minors.

As stated by the Prosecutors Office, the accused is alleged to have produced approximately 360 instances of sexual content involving virtual minors through the use of a generative AI tool. Reportedly, the suspect input phrases such as “10-year-old” and “naked” into the prompt of the program, which was installed on his laptop computer in April. The specific name of the image generator has not been revealed by South Korean law enforcement. READ MORE

2. South Korean government agency to launch ‘AI Privacy Team’

Ko Hak-soo, the chairman of the Personal Information Protection Commission, is having a press briefing on August 3. Source: The Personal Information Protection Commission

In a significant announcement made on Thursday, South Korea’s foremost regulatory body responsible for safeguarding citizens’ personal data disclosed its intention to establish a specialized team by October. This dedicated team’s primary focus will be addressing privacy concerns linked to artificial intelligence. Functioning as a centralized communication conduit, this team will engage in consultations with private enterprises involved in developing AI models or providing services driven by AI technology.

The initiative has been tentatively named the “AI Privacy Team” by the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), a title unveiled as a pivotal component of the government’s strategic roadmap. This roadmap has been introduced in response to the growing influence of AI and the novel challenges it introduces to the public sphere. At the heart of these complexities is the unpredictable nature of data processing intrinsic to this groundbreaking technology.

The PIPC stated in a formal media release, “Considering the development speed and complexity of AI, we will build a regulatory system that is focused on principles, not individual rules.” Furthermore, the PIPC announced its plan to convene the Global Privacy Assembly in 2025. This assembly will serve as a crucial platform for in-depth discussions on the privacy challenges accentuated by the advancement of AI technology.

3. North Korean hackers disguise as crypto exchange, researchers discovered

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

North Korean hackers are allegedly abusing users’ interest in cryptocurrency to spread malicious codes, according to cybersecurity researchers on Monday.

In a report, South Korean cybersecurity firm AhnLab stated that they discovered three malicious files disguised as benign Word documents on July 28. According to the researchers, the attackers posed as a cryptocurrency exchange and lured the targets into clicking on the compromised documents by giving the files names related to intriguing topics, such as common traits shared between cryptocurrency wallet hackings. AhnLab did not disclose the name of the cryptocurrency exchange.

The experts attributed the hacking attempt to one of the most prolific groups targeting the country, Kimsuky. “The hacking group is well known for applying specific strings of characters in the malicious code to confirm their targets when they are deploying an attack. One of the words they use is ‘Chnome,’ which is a typo of Chrome,” said the AhnLab Security Emergency response Center (ASEC) analysis team in an email statement to The Readable. READ MORE

4. Hacking against manufacturers increased by 62% in first half

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

Hacking incidents reported by manufacturing businesses rose more than 62% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

The Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) released a cyberthreat landscape report on Monday covering the first six months of the year. According to the report, 130 cases of hacking incidents were reported by manufacturing companies, which was a 62.5% increase from the year before. The government agencies stated that cybercriminals concentrated their attacks on small industrial firms that had a relatively lower level of security on their infrastructure than large firms.

“IT companies mostly consider security from the initial stage of their establishment. However, this is not the case with manufacturing firms where security investment comes second,” said Lee Jae-kwang, the manager of the profound analysis team in the internet incident analysis division at KISA, to The Readable. “This could make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.” READ MORE

5. Family of Halloween crush victim withdraws lawsuit against Apple

Designed by Sangseon Kim, The Readable

The legal dispute between Apple and the parents of a young victim tragically injured during a Halloween event has reached its conclusion. The family has made the choice to withdraw their legal pursuit against the tech behemoth regarding access to their deceased child's smartphone.

The Ho law firm, acting as legal representatives for the grieving family, announced on Thursday their decision to formally retract the lawsuit filed against Apple's South Korean division on July 20. This legal action, initiated by the parents of a victim caught in a crowd surge incident, was brought before the court on June 15 with the primary aim of seeking transparency and answers surrounding their son's untimely demise. In October of last year, the crowd surge during Halloween festivities claimed the lives of 151 individuals, including the deceased victim. READ MORE

Upcoming events…

1. W.Media: Korea Cloud & Datacenter Convention 2023 (31 August, South Korea)

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2. (ISC)2: Secure Asia Pacific (6-7 December, Singapore)


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

Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expertise in leading media outlets to success. Prior to establishing The Readable, Dain was a journalist for The Electronic Times, a prestigious IT newspaper in Korea. During her tenure, she extensively covered the cybersecurity industry, delivering groundbreaking reports. Her work included exclusive stories, such as the revelation of incident response information sharing by the National Intelligence Service. These accomplishments led to her receiving the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, a well-deserved accolade bestowed upon her through a unanimous decision. Dain has been invited to speak at several global conferences, including the APEC Women in STEM Principles and Actions, which was funded by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, she is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, further exhibiting her commitment to journalism.