[Weekend Briefing] Double-edged sword

By Dain Oh, The Readable
Jul. 7, 2023 9:23PM GMT+9 Updated Jul. 7, 2023 9:43PM GMT+9

“Weekend Briefing” is a weekly newsletter that is sent to The Readable’s subscribers every Friday. Cybersecurity journalists for The Readable carefully select important news stories from the previous week and deliver them in a compact form. Topics encompass cybercrime, geopolitics, and privacy. There are no costs involved with a subscription, and some content, such as the monthly ransomware index report, is only available to those who subscribe to our newsletters.

Hello! This is Dain Oh in South Korea. Yoon Suk-yeol, the former prosecutor turned President of the Republic of Korea, has paid special attention to ending phone scams since his administration was launched in May of last year. Locally referred to as “voice phishing,” phone scammers have stolen nearly $30 billion (more than 3.8 trillion won) from ordinary people between 2006 and 2021, according to Statistics Korea. In some cases, this evil extortion took the lives of victims in despair, who needed the cash to survive.

Following Yoon’s presidential promises, an integration center for phone scams response and report will start operating in South Korea later this month. The center may not prevent scams from occurring, but this will give a tremendous amount of relief to victims who cannot help but waste their time calling different agencies amid personal disaster. Kuksung Nam covered this news.

Artificial intelligence is making the situation more complicated. Phone scammers are adopting the latest technology in order to deceive people on the other side of the line. Last April, a mother in Arizona fell for a con artist who used AI to clone her daughter’s voice until her real daughter called and told her mother that she was okay. This is a new level of sophistication, which plagues the world.

“The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” This is the definition of the word “technology” by Oxford University Press. Almost all technology is a double-edged sword which depends on each user’s will, but AI is by far the most dramatic example due to its immense potential to impact society.

As an editor, I have recently decided to adopt AI in our newsroom. There have been continuous requests from cybersecurity companies for publication of their press releases through The Readable. We use AI to digest these demands. Not all press releases are suitable for publication. Materials that contain industrial insights and serve the public interest will be published. You can check two news examples in this briefing. Have a great weekend!

1. Response center opens to aid phishing victims in one phone call

Telephone scam victims may be able to act in response to their suffering in a single phone call later this month, according to the Korean National Police Agency on Thursday. The South Korean police stated that the integrated response and report center on phone scams will open on July 20. After going through the trial run for two months, the center will officially start to assist those who were tricked into sending money to cybercriminals. To read the full story, click here.

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

2. Privacy friendly certificates are coming to South Korean consumers

South Korean consumers will soon know just by looking at the label of a product whether it was built to effectively protect data. In a press release on Tuesday, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) stated that they are planning to issue a new certificate as a pilot program to give people more power over their own personal information. To read the full story, click here.

3. Over 700 children’s personal information removed from online platforms

South Korean teenagers successfully deleted nearly 750 posts which contained their personal information with the help of the country’s privacy agency. In a press release on Sunday, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) stated that it received almost 3,500 requests from children over the last two months as part of a pilot program aimed at protecting teenagers’ right to be forgotten. The PIPC accepted applications from individuals under the age of 24 who wished to delete sensitive posts which had been uploaded before they became 18. The posts included pictures, videos, and writings that contained names, dates of births, phone numbers, and addresses. To read the full story, click here.

4. National employment platform exposed 230,000 users’ personal data

The South Korean government announced on Thursday that its state-operated employment platform was hit by a cyberattack, exposing 230,000 users’ private data. In a press release, the Korea Employment Information Service (KEIS) stated that they discovered 230,000 cases of unauthorized access in the national employment platform, Worknet. The break in was conducted by 28 different foreign IP addresses. The KEIS assumed that the hackers used credential stuffing, a method where criminals try to gain access to an account by applying information that has already been breached. The agency did not explain in detail the reasoning behind their assumption because the incident is currently under investigation. To read the full story, click here.

5. [ChatGPT Assisted] Mastercard: Mastercard leverages AI to fight real-time payment scams

Mastercard has launched an AI-powered solution called “Consumer Fraud Risk” in the UK to combat various types of scams and fraudulent payments. By leveraging its AI capabilities and network view of account-to-account payments, Mastercard helps banks predict and prevent scams in real-time. The tool, currently adopted by nine UK banks, including Lloyds Bank, NatWest, and TSB, analyzes payment data and factors like account names and payment history to identify potential scams and intervene before funds are lost. To read the full article, click here.

6. [ChatGPT Assisted] Okta: Use of multi-factor authentication nearly doubles since 2020

Okta has released its Secure Sign-In Trends Report, which analyzes billions of monthly logins across 16 industries worldwide. The report reveals that the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) has almost doubled since 2020, with 90% of administrators and 64% of users utilizing MFA in January 2023. The report emphasizes the importance of phishing-resistant authenticators, such as Okta FastPass and FIDO2 WebAuthn, which not only offer enhanced security but also deliver a faster and more reliable user experience. To read the full article, click here.


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.