On Monday, online genealogy company MyHeritage Ltd. released a statement revealing the emails of some 92 million of its users were stolen during a security breach dated October 26, 2017. The website now has 96 million users from around the world with 1.4 million of them who have taken the DNA test.
MyHeritage believes the leak was limited to email addresses, as it doesn't store passwords; rather it stores a one-way hash of each password, in which the hash key differs for each customer.
Hashing passwords is a one-way encryption process allowing sensitive data to be stored easily, and although there are theoretically ways to reverse hashing, they involve huge amounts of computing power and quite a bit of luck.
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The Israeli-based company's information security team reviewed the file and confirmed the data was from MyHeritage. If the hackers here had data of yours from a different data breach, and the email addresses and passwords are identical, they could easily access your MyHeritage account. Hashed passwords should generally be considered secure. The researcher said they had found a file containing users' data on a private server and passed a copy of the file along.
"Here's what many consumers don't realize, that their sensitive information can end up in the hands of unknown third-party companies", Schumer said last November. "Since Oct. 26, 2017 (the date of the breach) and the present we have not seen any activity indicating that any MyHeritage accounts had been compromised".
The company emphasized that it does not store sensitive information, like user DNA data or family information, on the same system where it stores user email addresses.
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Mr Deutsch added: "Immediately upon receipt of the file, MyHeritage's Information Security Team analysed the file and began an investigation to determine how its contents were obtained and to identify any potential exploitation of the MyHeritage system". "We are taking steps to inform relevant authorities including as per GDPR", the company said.
It goes without saying that MyHeritage users should change their passwords as soon as possible.
MyHeritage also said it is adding two-factor authentication as an option for users.
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A full report will likely take a while; the company is planning to hire an external security firm to look into the breach, and is working on notifying relevant authorities under US laws and GDPR, among others.