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A ‘spambot’ named Onliner has reportedly collected personal information tied to 711 million email addresses and dumped them on a server.
The spambot was designed to infect devices, spreading malicious software that could steal valuable personal information, as well as discharge viruses and spam/junk emails. Spam emails are not only a nuisance but they often carry phishing software; enticing users to click on seemingly harmless links that hide further malware. From there, cybercriminals can trick users into revealing more information, and sometimes bank details directly, as well as taking control of computers.
If an email looks a bit off, or offers something that sounds too good to be true (think back to the age old online banners “Congratulations, you are our 1,000th visitor! Click here to claim your £1,000 prize!”), it’s probably wise to take caution and not open or click on anything in the email.
The website HaveIBeenPwned.com (HIBP) allows users to quickly check if their email addresses have been compromised by simply searching it through the websites database. The world ‘pwned’ is a play on the word ‘owned’, signifying being beaten. To date, the website has reportedly found 233 pwned websites and a whopping 4,729,225,727 pwned accounts.
However, even HIBP website owner Troy Hunt was apparently taken by surprise by the colossal data breach, noting the leak was:
“…the largest single set of data I’ve ever loaded into HIBP… Just for a sense of scale, that’s almost one address for every single man, woman and child in all of Europe.”
You may want to check your accounts – you really can never be too careful.
HIBP reveals that Onliner managed to compromise my email address and password. Hunt himself was shocked when he also found his own email address affected by Onliner.
Onliner takes the number one spot for HIBP’s Top 10 breaches in terms of number of email addresses impacted in a single breach. The 711 million email addresses may now expect a flurry of spam emails, or worse – accounts being taken over by malware to spread viruses even further. The spambot is known to spread the Ursnif banking Trojan virus which is programmed to steal online banking login details.
“The malicious software contained a server-based component located on an IP address in the Netherlands which exposed a large number of files containing personal information”, warns the website.
Dutch police are currently investigating the server in order to shut it down.
In the meantime, individuals are being encouraged by some experts to change their passwords for their emails.
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