The X Factor hit by database breach, leading to quarter of a million personal details being stolen

News by Dan Raywood

The personal details of 250,000 The X Factor hopefuls may have been compromised following a database hack.

The personal details of 250,000 The X Factor hopefuls may have been compromised following a database hack.

According to, hackers broke into Simon Cowell's computer network and stole more than 250,000 personal details of entrants to the US version of the talent show. A Fox network spokesperson confirmed that no financial information was accessed. An email has been sent to those affected warning them about the breach and confirming that names, email addresses, postal codes, phone numbers, date of birth and gender may have been accessed.

The email said: “We are taking this matter very seriously and are working with federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this illegal action. If you receive an email that appears to be from or The X Factor asking for personal information, please delete it, as it did not come from us.”

Andy Kemshall, technical director of SecurEnvoy, believed that this was the latest in a string of attacks on corporate servers to extract personal data rather than corporate data, suggesting that cyber criminals are now building information profiles on people, rather than developing frauds around available credentials.

He said: “It's actually quite easy to see a pattern emerging in these attacks. Previously, frauds were card-centric and built around opportunistic database hacks, but the sheer volume of the system hacks in recent months suggests that there is a longer-term strategy involved.

“We already know that people's credentials, including their names and unique identifiers, such as social security/national insurance and address details, are being bought and sold on underground forums, along with dates of birth, email addresses and other personal data.

“Our observations suggest that this data is being compiled into one or more databases, meaning that low-level frauds can be carried out on a steady basis, bursting into periods of high activity when the people's debit or credit card details become available.”


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