Korean Telco KT Reportedly Deployed Malware Against Its Customers Using P2P Software

Written by Lore Apostol
Published on June 27, 2024

Korea's main telecommunications network operator, KT, allegedly intently infected some customers with malware due to their excessive use of peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading tools, a media outlet said

This action began in May 2020 and continued for nearly five months from inside one of KT's own data centers. The source estimated that 600,000 users were compromised over the course of a single month. 

Malware designed to create strange folders or hide files was allegedly inserted into the Grid Program, which KT users used to exchange data via the P2P method. In some cases, the program and PCs stopped working altogether. A Grid Program representative told the media outlet that the company’s investigation proved that people using the KT Internet lines were the only ones affected.

Drawing enough attention, the police also conducted an investigation that revealed the source was one of KT's data centers, the Bundang IDC Center. The Gyeonggi Southern District Office allegedly believes that KT may have violated the Communications Secrets Protection Act (CSPA) and the Information and Communications Network Act (ICNA). The investigation continued for four years, and the KT CEO eventually quit.

The police reportedly discovered that KT had a team that detected and interfered with P2P file transfers and developed, distributed, and operated malware. In November of last year, the police identified and referred 13 individuals, including KT's and its partner companies' employees at the time, for prosecution, and an additional investigation has been ongoing since May 2024.

In the past, online file-sharing companies and KT even engaged in lawsuits due to P2P companies lowering network usage fees. It was deemed 'not unreasonable’ for KT to block traffic from these companies. KT representatives said the company's Grid service itself is a malicious program, so KT controlled it in accordance with the trial ruling at the time.

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