NEW YORK — Hackers have stolen usernames and passwords for nearly two million accounts at Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others, according to a report released this week.
The massive data breach was a result of keylogging software maliciously installed on an untold number of computers around the world, researchers at cybersecurity firm Trustwave said. The virus was capturing login credentials for key websites over the past month and sending those usernames and passwords to a server controlled by the hackers.
“They hack [social networking accounts] a lot more frequently now so it’s something you look at and think ‘Oh there’s another one.’ The magnitude of this one though, it’s a pretty good one,” said Kevin Lee, with Guilford Technical Community College’s Computer Technology Department.
On Nov. 24, Trustwave researchers tracked that server, located in the Netherlands. They discovered compromised credentials for 93,000 websites, including:
318,000 Facebook accounts 70,000 Gmail, Google+ and YouTube accounts 60,000 Yahoo accounts 22,000 Twitter accounts 9,000 Odnoklassniki accounts (a Russian social network) 8,000 ADP.accounts 8,000 LinkedIn accounts
Trustwave notified these companies of the breach. They posted their findings publicly on Tuesday.
“We don’t have evidence they logged into these accounts, but they probably did,” said John Miller, a security research manager at Trustwave.
Facebook and Twitter told CNNMoney they have since reset passwords for all of its compromised users. Google, Yahoo, ADP and LinkedIn did not provide immediate responses for comment.
Miller said the team doesn’t yet know how the virus got onto so many computers. Since the hackers set up the keylogging software to rout information through a proxy server, it’s impossible to track down which computers are infected.
Among the compromised data are 41,000 credentials used to connect to File Transfer Protocol (FTP, the standard network used when working from home) and 6,000 remote log-ins.
The hacking campaign started secretly collecting passwords on Oct. 21. The campaign could still be ongoing: Although Trustwave discovered the Netherlands proxy server, Miller said there are several other similar servers they haven’t yet tracked down.
Want to know whether your computer is infected? Just searching programs and files won’t be enough, because the virus running the background is hidden, Miller said. Your best bet is to update your antivirus software and download the latest patches for Internet browsers, Adobe and Java.
Of all the compromised services, Miller said he is most concerned with ADP. Those log-ins are typically used by payroll personnel who manage workers’ paychecks. Any information they can see can be viewed by hackers.
“They might be able to cut checks, modify people’s payments,” Miller speculated.
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