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Security concerns rise in Korea over Wi-Fi networks
[May 04, 2011]

Security concerns rise in Korea over Wi-Fi networks

May 03, 2011 (The Korea Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ANN) -- Security concerns involving South Korea's wireless Internet networks are rising again following findings that global firms Google and Apple both used the Wi-Fi networks to collect user information.

Two companies reportedly collected the location logs of their smartphone users from the wireless networks provided by local telecoms in Korea.

The problem stems from many smartphone owners' habit of connecting to the Internet in the Wi-Fi hotspots since the zones grant free and easy access, which does not involve a difficult user authorization process.

KT's QOOK Wi-Fi zones offer free online access to its registered users and SK Telecom's T Wi-Fi zones are open to anyone with a wireless device. KT, which is stressing that the large number of wireless networks is one of the company's strongest points, plans to build up to 100,000 wireless Internet zones by the end of this year, while its rival SKT aims for 62,000.

"I'm somewhat aware that the open wireless Internet networks can trigger security problems, but I tend to go with the option anyway because the Wi-Fi networks are much faster in data transfer compared to the 3G network on mobile," said an office worker who only wished to be identified by her surname Park.

The Wi-Fi networks, however, come in handy not only for ordinary consumers, but also for firms like Apple and Google that are collecting "anonymous" user information since the process is free of charge.

"The most important aspect of Wi-Fi zones is that it could be used by anyone because it is an open network that uses a specific frequency range," said an official at the Korea Communications Commission, a state telecom regulating body.

"Because of such characteristics, we have not set a limit up to now as to how it could be used or how it should be established." Although wireless networks are known to benefit many people, the time has come to draft a set of network management measures, which is a field that has been left vulnerable, according to industry sources.

They also supported their statement by pointing to a recent study which showed that it has become possible to steal private information of smartphone users by creating a fake wireless Internet network that has the same name as the public Wi-Fi network.

"I personally think Korea's lagging behind in dealing with Internet security issues, especially in the Wi-Fi area," said an industry insider. "The government keeps enforcing ID logins, but I believe secured packet transfers, like the U.S.' encryption efforts, on personal information such as logins and account numbers should be considered." To see more of the Asia News Network, go to Copyright (c) 2011, The Korea Herald, Seoul / Asia News Network Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit

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