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Irish internet users could be vulnerable after 1.2 billion password theft

An attack by Russian hackers has seen 1.2 billion passwords stolen.

Image: Hacker via shutterstock

THERE HAVE BEEN warnings for Irish internet users after a recent security breach that could have seen 1.2 billion passwords fall into the hands of Russian hackers.

It is thought that passwords and usernames from as many as 500,000 websites could have been compromised in what would be one of the biggest data breaches of all time. The information about the reported theft comes from US-based company Hold Security Ltd.

There have been some questions raised over the validity of the claim due to lack of information about the hacks provided by the company and the fact they have only been recently established.

The company has also taken the unusual action of charging users $120 to check if their information has been compromised.

The original statement on the company’s website from last week states:

In the latest development, Hold Security’s Deep Web Monitoring practice in conjunction with our Credential Integrity Services discovered what could be arguably the largest data breach known to date.”

The company’s claims have been given veracity through the backing of tech expert Brian Krebs. When speaking about Hold Security’s founder Alex Holden last week on his website, Krebs said:

“I’ve known Hold Security’s Founder Alex Holden for nearly seven years…  Alex is a talented and tireless researcher, as well as a forthright and honest guy.”

The threat has been identified by global security company Trend Micro as a serious issue. The company operate globally and have their European Operations Centre in Cork. The company have warned that the data of Irish users could be vulnerable to attacks by ‘cyber criminals’.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Trend Micro’s enterprise security director Simon Walsh noted  ”it seems strange [Hold Security Ltd] appeared all of a sudden” but that “we have to take it at face value”. He went on to say:

“If you are looking for stolen credentials, [underground sites] are the kinds of places where you would hang out… they provide a huge wealth of resources to anyone trying to do this kind of stuff. You don’t need to be a cyber criminal to do this kind of thing. You can buy anything you need.”

There is talk that some of the 500,000 companies could be Fortune 500 companies. If that was the case then it is totally possible that Irish people were hit. We use the internet as much as anyone else.

A report issued earlier this year by the Trend Micro entitled ‘Russian Underground Revisited’ looked at the particular threat of the Russian online black market.

The study found the Russian marketplace to be offer a number of illegal products, including stolen credit card credentials, fake documents including passports, services to sell web traffic and malware software that can be used to steal personal data.

On what customers can do to protect their safety, Harris said: “Use different passwords for different websites and use a password manager. Try and change passwords regularly.”

Related: Had a Paddy Power account in 2010? You need to read this

Also: Domino’s has four hours to pay ransom for customers’ passwords and favourite toppings

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