[Weekend Briefing] iPhone, Banksy, international collaboration

By Dain Oh and Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jan. 13, 2023 10:27PM KST

“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 and Kuksung Nam in South Korea. We have picked five news stories from this week. Have a great weekend!

1. South Korean spy agency approves of using iPhone for work in public sector

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

The National Intelligence Service announced on Wednesday that it has tentatively confirmed the security requirements for iPhone, liberating Apple users who were not allowed to use their devices at work in the public sector.

As the highest government body which sets the security standards for products and services that are adopted by public institutions, the NIS published the national security requirements regarding mobile devices in iOS and iPadOS on January 11.

The requirements specifically deal with the iPhone’s mobile device management (MDM) software. MDM enables users to protect data by offering multiple security features, such as blocking audio and video recording and access to the internet. According to the NIS, Apple recently enhanced its features for iPhone MDM and satisfied the security requirements of the South Korean government. To read the full story, click here.

2. Banksy’s fundraising for Ukraine interrupted by ‘hostile attacks from Russia’

Banksy’s artwork for a fundraising for Ukraine. Source: The Legacy of War Foundation

A fundraising event for Ukraine that was coordinated by the worldly acclaimed graffiti artist Banksy and an international charity organization has been disrupted by thousands of cyberattacks which came from Russian IP addresses, according to the Legacy of War Foundation.

While notifying the public that the registration for the Banksy auction is closed, the Legacy of War Foundation disclosed that its website received “3,500 hostile attacks from Russian IP addresses,” which led to a longer selection process for successful applicants than expected. The requests themselves came from over 1 million people who expressed their interest in buying Banksy’s artwork.

Last month, Banksy announced that they had made a series of prints to raise money for the people in Ukraine. “I’ve made 50 of these screenprints with all proceeds going to our friends in Ukraine,” Banksy wrote under a print that features a rat, sliding down a cardboard box with the word “FRAGILE” written on it. To read the full story, click here.

3. Scholars in information security seek international collaboration

Won Yoo-jae, the president of the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, is delivering an inauguration speech on January 12. Photo by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology

On Thursday, the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology announced the launch of an international branch, which is designed to promote collaboration between scholars based in different countries. The branch office will be established in the United States within this year while building a network across Korean scholars in the field of information security.

As the most prestigious South Korean association that gathers experts together, including professors and high-level government officials, and operating 34 subsidiary research groups, the KIISC has contributed to enhancing the nation’s security over the last 30 years. It organizes four major academic conferences every year and plans to expand them to a global level starting this year.

“To begin with, the institute will hold an international conference on artificial intelligence and information security, encouraging scholars worldwide to collaborate with each other,” said Won Yoo-jae, the president of the KIISC during his inauguration speech on January 12.

4. Hackers target Brazil government amidst national chaos

The hacking group GhostSec posted on the hacking forum on Tuesday that they had gained access to the Brazilian government’s webmail. Source: S2W

Internal information of Brazil’s government has allegedly been compromised and is being exposed through a hacking group’s Telegram channel. In a post on the online hacking forum this Tuesday, the hacking group GhostSec claimed that they had gained access to the government’s webmail and obtained 845MB of data, including what they claim is the personal information of employees and email messages, according to the cybersecurity firm S2W. GhostSec, who is known as a hacktivist group, also tweeted on Wednesday about the breach and attached the link to their post on the dark web.

In the Telegram message, the hacking group GhostSec claimed to have obtained 845MB of data including what they claim is the personal information of Brazil’s government employees and email messages. Source: The Readable

Although the post on the hacking forum has been deleted, the hacking group is still offering the breached data for free through their Telegram channel. In the Telegram message, the hacking group mentioned words such as “protests” and “riots,” which leads to the assumption that the chaotic situation in Brazil might be the reason behind their activities. Early this week, supporters of the former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro swarmed to the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace over their refusal to accept the results of the presidential election.

5. Privacy watchdog probes into South Korean telecom giant’s customer data breach

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

South Korea’s privacy watchdog has launched an investigation into the nation’s third largest telecommunication company after the personal data of almost 180,000 customers, including users’ names, birth dates, and phone numbers, was breached and posted on the dark web.

The Personal Information Protection Commission said on Wednesday that it will examine the details of the incident and the volume of the personal information that LG Uplus has allegedly exposed. The commission plans to look into whether the telecommunication giant has mishandled its users’ data, violating the privacy law.

This is not the first time that LG Uplus has been under the scrutiny of South Korea’s privacy watchdog. The telecom giant, which has more than fifteen million people as its users, was fined 6 million won ($4,800) this past autumn for a security violation which led to its employees’ login credentials being leaked on the dark web. To read the original reporting, click here.


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

Dain Oh is an award-winning cybersecurity journalist based in South Korea and the founding editor-in-chief of The Readable by S2W. Before joining S2W, she worked as a reporter for The Electronic Times, the top IT newspaper in Korea, covering the cybersecurity industry on an in-depth level. She reported numerous exclusive stories, and her work related to the National Intelligence Service led to her being honored with the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology in a unanimous decision. She was also the first journalist to report on the hacking of vulnerable wallpads in South Korean apartments, which later became a nation-wide issue.

Kuksung Nam is a cybersecurity journalist for The Readable. She covers cybersecurity issues in South Korea, including the public and private sectors. Prior to joining The Readable, she worked as a political reporter for one of the top-five local newspapers in South Korea, The Kyeongin Ilbo, where she reported several exclusive stories regarding the misconduct of local government officials. She is currently focused on issues related to anti-fraud, as well as threats and crimes in cyberspace. She is a Korean native who is fluent in English and French, and she is interested in delivering the news to a global audience.