Security concerns grow over Samsung smartphones

A recent case of phone hacking and blackmail targeting around 10 celebrities, including actor Joo Jin-mo, has led to security concerns among Samsung smartphone users, as all of the victims were using smartphones manufactured by Samsung Electronics.

Hackers are believed to have stolen celebrities’ personal data such as photos, videos and text messages from Samsung Cloud, in which users store their smartphone data in case they lose or change their phones.

Hackers demanded money from their victims, threatening to expose their personal information if they didn’t pay up. Some of the victims apparently paid out the money, while Joo did not, which led hackers to disclose text messages between him and another actor.

Screenshots of text messages believed to be Joo’s have been distributed to various online communities, seriously harming Joo’s image as the messages contain discussions of a sexual nature.

“The latest case shows that all of us can be a victim of smartphone hacking. It is scary,” a 34-year-old office worker in Seoul said.

A 23-year-old university student who uses a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 also said, “A smartphone is a private area. I feel scared when thinking somebody is able to view sensitive information such as conversations with my friends.”

Police recently opened an investigation into the case to track down hackers and find out whether the cloud service itself had been hacked, or whether hackers stole IDs and passwords that would enable them to log in the cloud service from other devices.

Samsung Electronics claimed Friday that the case was not a result of the hacking of Galaxy phones or the firm’s cloud service, adding weight to the possibility that IDs and passwords of celebrities have been stolen from elsewhere as users tend to use the same IDs and passwords for various websites.

“We assume that the IDs and passwords of some users have been stolen and used illegally,” the tech giant said in its Samsung Members community. “Unless IDs and passwords are stolen, information stored in Samsung Cloud is safely taken care of in accordance with our personal information management system.”

The company asked users to set up additional safety measures to avoid falling victim to hackers, adding that “We advise users not to use the same ID and passwords used for logins of other accounts. We also advise users to change ID and passwords for Samsung Cloud frequently.”

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