- Hundreds of apartment buildings across the country were targeted, with compromising footage of residents’ private lives sold on the dark web
- The incident has prompted the government to strengthen cybersecurity rules to protect residents in a country where 63 per cent of people live in flats
South Korea is reviewing online security regulations after a hacker targeted hundreds of smart home devices and sold intimate video footage of residents on the dark web in exchange for bitcoin.
Alerted by the Korea Internet Security Agency to the case, police last week launched an investigation and confirmed hacked video footage from apartments across the country were leaked online.
Thumbnail images of the video clips on the dark web showed scenes of private home life, naked bodies and sex scenes, said IT Chosun, a tech news website that exposed the hacking this month.
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A reporter posing as a buyer contacted the hacker, who said in an encrypted email that it cost 0.1 bitcoin (about US$5,736) to gain video access to an apartment for 24 hours. The hacker reportedly supplied the writer a long list of flats to choose from.
Smart home features installed in Korean apartments first began as intercom systems, but grew to have expanded functions. Many new flats today have smart home devices, including wall pad door locks, lights, heaters, refrigerators, laundry machines and air conditioners that can be controlled by smartphones remotely.
Some systems include surveillance cameras, which the incident shows is vulnerable to invasion of privacy. If a hacker succeeds in breaching the security of one home, they can also access footage of neighbouring apartments connected through the building’s network, IT Chosun said.
In South Korea, 63 per cent of households live in flats.