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South Korea Investigating Suspected Samsung Chip Tech Thief

Korea National Intelligence Service
(Image credit: Korea NIS)

A Samsung employee is at the center of an investigation by South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS), the nation's chief intelligence agency. Business Korea reports that the employee was detected trying to leak confidential documents relating to Samsung foundry technology.

The NIS launched an investigation to uncover the facts about the purported "technology leak attempt" at Samsung. Despite the case being under investigation, our source shares quite an interesting profile of the suspected thief and his actions.

(Image credit: Korea NIS)

The newspaper says that the employee works at the Foundry Business Department of the DS (Devices Solutions) Division in Samsung. Currently, over 60% of Samsung's profits come from its semiconductor business which is a major part of DS Division. So, you can imagine how important this business is to the company and how valuable the intellectual property is.

The Samsung DS Division employee was working at home. From the confines of their home office, they were detected attempting "to leak confidential documents regarding its foundry technology," reports Business Korea.

Samsung has a document access logging system called EDM, an abbreviation of Electronic Documents Management. The employee under scrutiny must have left a digital trail or got caught by some virtual tripwires in EDM. Thus he is "suspected of accessing, viewing and filming the company's confidential information, including a number of semiconductor-related electronic documents, while working from home."

At this time we don't know if any attempted leak was successful or whether Samsung's systems for people working from home are rigorous enough to detect such things. However, it must have at least been the case that the suspected IP thief was spotted browsing and checking over documents out of his regular scope of work.

Samsung contacted the NIS about the incident earlier this week in compliance with the Korean Industrial Protection Technology Act. The Korean government's Ministry of Trade and Industry and Energy (MOTIE) are also interested in the details surrounding the case.

Although it isn't mentioned in the source report, it is natural to wonder about the intended destination for the leaked information. Our most recently published reports about similar skullduggery concerned Taiwanese investigators swooping into Chinese-owned company offices on the island to apprehend villainous chip talent poachers. Hopefully, the full details of this case will become public after the investigation by NIS is complete.

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.