This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.X

Hackers hit LivingSocial and threaten 50 million users

Share this article:

Hackers have hit the daily deals site LivingSocial, gaining access to credentials and encrypted passwords of its 50 million registered users.

Although the passwords were hashed and salted, the company said in a memo to employees that data for its 50 million users might have been compromised and it was contacting customers.

The memo said: “We recently experienced a cyber attack on our computer systems that resulted in unauthorised access to some customer data from our servers. We are actively working with law enforcement to investigate this issue.

“The information accessed includes names, email addresses, date of birth for some users, and encrypted passwords — technically ‘hashed' and ‘salted' passwords. We never store passwords in plain text.”

It also confirmed that neither the database that stores customer credit card information or the database that stores merchants' financial and banking information were affected or accessed.

The memo, signed by CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy and featured by allthingsd, said that it was "redoubling efforts to prevent any issues in the future" and in anticipation of a high call volume, it was likely to temporarily suspend consumer phone-based servicing and devote all of its resources to web-based servicing.

O'Shaughnessy said: “I apologise for the formality of this note, which the circumstances demand. We need to do the right thing for our customers who place their trust in us, and that is why we're taking the steps described and going above and beyond what's required. We'll all need to work incredibly hard over the coming days and weeks to validate that faith and trust.”

Paul Ducklin, head of technology for Sophos Asia Pacific, said that rather than storing an actual password, consider storing a random string of characters instead; which combine the password and this random string and pass the salted password through a non-reversible cryptographic function to get a message digest code.

“A crook can check to see if your password is, say ‘s3cr3cy' by salting-and-hashing himself, but he has to start with a guess, because he can't go back from the hash to your password,” he said.

“That's why easy-to-guess passwords are bad: the crooks crack them first.”

Terry Greer-King, managing director of Check Point UK, said: “LivingSocial users should change their passwords quickly, even though the stolen passwords were encrypted: this protection can be cracked using easily-available programs.

“They should also be cautious about clicking on links in emails they receive purporting to be from LivingSocial. There's a real risk that the stolen email addresses will be used to send phishing emails to users, to try and harvest more data such as credit card details.

“In 2012, businesses globally were reporting an average of nearly 70 attempted security attacks on their networks every week. For the attackers, this is just a numbers game.”

Share this article:

SC webcasts on demand

This is how to secure data in the cloud

Exclusive video webcast & Q&A sponsored by Vormetric

As enterprises look to take advantage of the cloud, they need to understand the importance of safeguarding their confidential and sensitive data in cloud environments. With the appropriate security safeguards, such as fine-grained access policies, a move to the cloud is as, or more, secure than an on-premise data storage.

View the webcast here to find out more

More in News

Microsoft warns on yet another zero-day security flaw

Microsoft warns on yet another zero-day security flaw

Microsoft has warned Windows users about a zero-day security issue with malicious PowerPoint documents being emailed to recipients. The software giant is working on a patch for the problem.

Google launches FIDO-compliant 2FA USB key for Chrome and Gmail

Google launches FIDO-compliant 2FA USB key for Chrome ...

Google has souped up its two-factor authentication (2FA) login process with the launch of Security Key, a physical USB that only works after verifying the login site is truly a ...

Evolving TorrentLocker ransomware generating big money

Evolving TorrentLocker ransomware generating big money

The TorrentLocker ransomware has returned with a vengeance and is starting to bring in big money for its operators.