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Chinese hackers allegedly make a game of ID theft

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Names and national identity numbers of 2,000 South Koreans have been stolen by sneak thieves who used the information to play the popular online computer game Lineage for free. Seoul-base game developer NCSoft issued a warning after getting numerous, and rising, reports of unauthorised players last week. It reckons the purloined data "leaked" from internet shopping malls, the Korea Times reports.

Lineage is offered with a three day free pass for each new registration in Korea. Normally the game costs 29,700 Won ($31) per month. NCSoft maintains victims of the identity theft were not hit financially. Local reports speculate that Chinese hackers obtained the personal data on Koreans in order to resell game access on the black market. Local police are investigating the case.

Korean websites commonly ask users to submit their identity numbers but the practice is frowned on by the Korean government as a security risk. It wants firms to adopt alternative registration schemes. US users of Lineage, for example, need only to validate their email address in order to play. ®

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