KT Telecom Faces Legal Trouble Over Malware Scandal

KT Telecom Faces Legal Trouble Over Malware Scandal

Yeon-Mi Park
2 min read

South Korea's KT Accused of Using Malware Against Customers to Block Torrenting

In South Korea, allegations have surfaced claiming that Korea Telecom (KT) targeted approximately 600,000 of its own customers with malware to obstruct the use of torrenting sites. This controversial operation, which commenced in May 2020, involved a dedicated division within KT responsible for developing and disseminating the malware. The affected customers, who were users of the Grid Program, encountered anomalies such as peculiar folder creation, concealed files, and even complete PC failures.

The origin of the malware was traced back to KT's data center, prompting an official investigation involving law enforcement. Authorities suspect that KT breached the Communications Secrets Protection Act and the Information and Communications Network Act. In the wake of these accusations, the CEO of KT resigned, and 13 individuals are facing prosecution. A fresh inquiry into the matter was recently initiated.

Key Takeaways

  • Allegations suggest that South Korea's KT used malware against 600,000 customers to hinder torrenting.
  • KT reportedly had a specialized division dedicated to developing and distributing the malware since May 2020.
  • The malware led to issues such as unusual folder creation and PC malfunctions for users of KT's Grid Program.
  • Police suspect that KT violated the Communications Secrets Protection Act and the Information and Communications Network Act.
  • The CEO of KT resigned amidst the scandal, and 13 individuals are facing potential prosecution.


KT's purported use of malware against its own customers to impede torrenting reflects a clash between network management and user rights, compounded by legal ambiguities surrounding P2P traffic regulation. This action, likely aimed at alleviating network strain, has resulted in severe legal and reputational repercussions, including CEO resignation and potential prosecution under privacy laws. The incident underscores the necessity for clearer regulatory frameworks and ethical practices in digital rights management, affecting not only KT but also setting a precedent for other telecoms grappling with similar challenges. Over the long term, this could lead to stricter regulations on telecom practices and heightened consumer vigilance regarding digital privacy.

Did You Know?

  • Communications Secrets Protection Act: An South Korean law designed to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of communications, prohibiting unauthorized interception, disclosure, or surveillance of communications, thereby ensuring that telecom providers handle customer data with strict confidentiality.
  • Information and Communications Network Act: This South Korean legislation governs the use and regulation of information and communications networks, aiming to promote the development of information and communications and protect users. It includes provisions on data protection, network security, and the responsibilities of service providers.
  • Grid Program (KT): A service offered by Korea Telecom (KT) that likely involves a network or system designed to manage and distribute resources or services to its customers. In the context of this incident, it pertains to the group of customers affected by the malware distributed by KT to prevent torrenting activities.

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