Line, a South Korean application for instant messaging and making free VoIP phone call on smartphones is completely penetrated by Korean National Intelligence Service, FACTA Reported June 17, 2014. Line is a 100 % subsidiary company of South Korean MHN, and locates in Japan. It debuted in ICT scene just in 2011, now boosts 400 millions users throughout the world and among that 40 millions are Japanese.
According to the FACTA ( a small, polemic but one of the keenest media known for triggering the global coverage campaigning of Olympus financial irregular scandal ), the Korean spy agency NIS ( formerly know for ”KCIA” ) had been intercepting collecting recording and analyzing all the communication through LINE.
It was blatantly said by Korean cyber security official on the session with Japanese counterpart, NISC in the end of May. The authority is alleged to be wiretapping between the communication line and the server computer instead of directly penetrating into the system. Therefore, under the south Korean law system, where privacy of communication is not guaranteed, it is completely legal.
The logs are stored in the data center somewhere in Europe and beyond that LINE’s Japanese customer data should have been leaked to Chinese ICT Giant Tencent ( locates in Shenzhen, Guangdong) It had been a surprise for Japanese authorities, the FACTA says.
In response to the coverage, CEO of LINE, Mr. Akira Morikawa posted his statement in the blog.
In the argument,”the interception on the way the reported is impossible because LINE is adopting the world standard, highest level cryptography.” and ” The statement that Korean Authority penetrated into our communication is quiet false.” he remarks.
However, many question occurs. What is the world world standard cryptography code; and how one ICT company deny the possibility of being penetrated by governmental agency, especially after Mr Edward Snowden’s leakage showing how powerful national spying agencies are?
So We asked (1) what is the protocol of security Line Is using and (2) How LINE confirmed Mr Morikawa’s statement, and to do so, did LINE the Japanese, Korean, government and FACTA?
We asked the LINE Corporation, but its reply is quiet slippery, or at best… evasive. The Line Answered 18, June ” (1) We can not say what protocol of cryptography we are using for security reasons. (2)And we are not penetrated because we confirmed that the datas are leaked”. The later answer seemed to be completely irrelevant or insufficient to the authors question. The LINE did not mention whether it contacted Korean and Japanese government to confirm the FACTA is wrong.
The coverage is just now starting and we are now agains asking for further questions.
Some security specialists have been saying it is not astonishing if LINE is used as a spying via foreign government, because it unnaturally collects all the address, short dial and other detailed data of registered user’s cellphones. Though it is not yet sure line has been penetrated by Korean and Chinese Spy agency, one thing I can say in this stage is, its response is quiet unnatural too and can not take seriously.
(Thai Police Authority had adopted the LINE for internal communication, A Asahi Shimbun reported in 2013. )