The Korean Herald and other news outlets are reporting that 35 million users of Nate - South Korea's third largest search engine - and Cyworld - the country's largest social networking site - have had some of their personal information stolen by hackers allegedly traced to China.

Some 25 million South Koreans belong to Cyworld - nearly half the country's population.

The hacking attack was announced yesterday by SK Communications Co., which operates Nate and Cyworld, and is "a unit of the SK Group whose affiliates include top mobile operator SK Telecom," the Herald report.

The Korean Herald story quotes a statement from SK Communications that reads in part:

"The company has confirmed that a leak of customers' information has taken place due to hacking on July 26, The specific scale of the hacking is still being investigated, but it is estimated that some of the personal information of 35 million Nate and Cyworld members have been leaked."

It also quotes SK Communications CEO Joo Hyung-chul as stating:

"Concerning this incident, we offer our apology to our customers and have taken all the necessary measures to minimize the impact and identify the cause and retrieve customer information in cooperation with the authorities."

The Herald reports that "users' names, phone numbers, email, resident registration numbers and passwords" were taken, although the passwords and resident registration numbers were encrypted. The main worry at the moment seems to be the likelihood of a major increase in spam/phishing attacks across the country.

Shares of SK Communications dropped nearly 6% on the news.

This is the second major hacking attack in South Korea this year. The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, suffered a crippling attack in April that authorities said originated in North Korea.

An opinion piece in today's Korean Times concerning the hack attack notes that:

"Korea, the most wired country, is also the most hacked nation in the world. Regulators and portal sites have been sloppy and are useless in cyber security. "

You can read in this recent Spectrum news story about how Songdo, South Korea aims to be the most wired city on Earth with help from Cisco. Hopefully, some thought has gone into about how to make it the most IT security city on Earth as well (though I tend to doubt it).

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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