Ancestry service MyHeritage: 92 million customer email addresses exposed

07 June, 2018, 11:33 | Author: Lora Ball
  • Renderings of DNA strands

MyHeritage said it believes the breach was limited to user email addresses, and that it has no reason to believe any other systems were compromised.

The email addresses of more than 92 million MyHeritage users were recently exposed via a private server outside of the company's control, it revealed yesterday, as it launches an investigation into the breach. The website now has 96 million users; 1.4 million users have taken the DNA test.

The company reassured customers that anyone who has access to the hashed passwords does not have the actual passwords.

A security researcher contacted the company after discovering a file named "myheritage" on a private server, MyHeritage said. 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.

DNA databases have come under closer scrutiny as more online companies commoditize the service, offering genetic sequencing at low prices and warehouse the data.

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MyHeritage says that user accounts are safe, as the passwords were hashed using a per-user unique cryptographic key. Hashing is a form of encryption that means a password is mathematically converted into a seemingly random series of characters. This server contained email addresses and hashed passwords.

"Immediately upon learning about the incident, we set up an Information Security Incident Response Team to investigate the incident", wrote chief information security officer Omer Deutsch on a post on the company's website. It is unclear if the breach is the result of a hacker attack or because of a malicious employee selling the company's data. We have no reason to believe those systems have been compromised. It's also working with an independent cybersecurity firm, which will conduct reviews to determine the scope of the breach and offer suggestions on preventing something like this from happening again.

According to the genealogy platform, credit card information is stored by third-party billing providers, while sensitive data, such as family trees and DNA data, is stored on segregated systems, which include added layers of security.

He also outlined how the company intends to bolster its security measures in future, including rolling out two-factor authentication to its users, as well as setting up a 24/7 security customer support team to assist users with concerns about the incident. Aside from informing users, MyHeritage stated it is taking steps to notify relevant authorities, as per GDPR.

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