A series of data breaches over the last year has caused the South Korean government to reconsider the national identification system. This is due to the fact that so many ID numbers have been stolen that it is putting the entire population at risk of identity theft. At the core of the issue is the ID number issued to each South Korean citizen above the age of 17; which is not randomly generated and contains details about the person associated with it.
Some 20 million people were victims of a recent data breach affecting three credit card companies. Among this were the national ID numbers which are unique to the individuals as they contain a birth date, number to identify gender, and other indicators. This makes it very difficult for the government to assign a new number to those affected by the breach as it is used for a variety of tasks such as getting a job or interacting with the government. If this system sounds familiar, it would be because it is similar to the one currently employed in here.
Experts estimate that 80-percent of the 50 million South Korean citizens have had their personal details stolen since 2004, which puts the entire at risk. Anyone with the numbers will be capable of opening bank accounts, take loans, and perform a variety of tasks in the name of the stolen identity.
Seoul is contemplating overhauling the system at the cost of US$650 million; which does not include the expenses incurred by businesses to update their own systems to adapt to the change. The move could end up costing the country several billion US dollars, but is quickly becoming necessary before cases of identity theft become rampant.