RTA suspends AWOL sergeant major turned cyberpunk after hacking 55 million Thais’ personal data

Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, centre, says police identified the alleged hacker who stole the data of 55 million Thais as an army sergeant but can't find him.

The sergeant major turned cyberpunk who was accused of hacking the personal data of 55 million Thais has been suspended by the Royal Thai Army (RTA). Police on Friday reported that the suspect and his wife were detained and questioned about the alleged crime, but the couple has since disappeared.

Maj. Gen. Sirichan Ngathong, the deputy spokesperson, stated that “SM2 Khemarat’s unit” suspended him on Friday, April 7 for being absent without leave (AWOL) since April 3. The suspect works as a driver in the Army Transportation Department. The sergeant major was issued an arrest warrant for computer crime, leading to his suspension, reported Bangkok Post.

Maj. Gen. Sirichan reiterated that the army is doing everything possible to locate the suspect and that the alleged crime was a personal matter rather than a military operation.

The suspect allegedly obtained the personal information of millions of people, including their names, surnames, addresses, birthdates, ID card numbers, and telephone numbers, from the Mor Prom app. The suspect’s wife, who is a nurse, also had access to the database.

The Mor Prom app was initially developed by the Public Health Ministry to help implement Covid-19 controls during the pandemic. It was later expanded to serve as a health service portal.

The RTA on Sunday was accused of delaying the arrest of the sergeant major. But the RTA say that despite approaching the suspect’s supervisors and family, investigators have been unable to contact him.

Maj. Gen. Sirichan responded to a report stating that the police had given the suspect seven days to surrender. She also stated that the army had formed a committee to investigate disciplinary action against the sergeant major for damaging the army’s reputation.

The spokesperson emphasized that the suspect’s actions were a personal matter and had nothing to do with his military service since he was only a driver in the Army Transportation Department in Nonthaburi province.

Responding to reports that the suspect had the support of an influential person, Maj. Gen. Sirichan stated that any soldiers suspected of wrongdoing would not be protected.

The arrest warrant issued for the sergeant major was for disseminating information that caused public panic under the computer crime law. The suspect, using the pseudonym “9Near,” posted on the BreachForum that he possessed the personal data of 55 million Thais, including their names, surnames, addresses, birthdates, ID card numbers, and telephone numbers.

The hacker threatened to disclose the information if a government agency allegedly involved in the data breach did not meet his ransom demand last week.

According to reports, the suspect’s wife, who is a nurse, has also gone into hiding with her husband. She had access to the Mor Prom app, a health service portal of the Public Health Ministry that contained the personal data of most Thai citizens.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.