If you are a Google, Facebook or Twitter user you may have recently received alerts about the need to change your login password. This was a massive password scam affecting big online networks, with the number of stolen credentials nearly reaching the 2 million mark. How was the theft uncovered?
Researchers have pinpointed Pony, a botnet program, as the culprit. This controller was using almost 2 million accounts to unleash spam and steal data, compromising sites such as LinkedIn, Yahoo and many other types of accounts.
The theft included email account and remote desktop logins, as well as FTP credentials.. While the attack seems to have originated in the Netherlands, a reverse proxy was being used, therefore having affected machines only contact the proxy server. Were certain countries targeted in the attack? This reverse proxy set-up is what is particularly keeping researchers from finding out.
While in the middle of all the stolen data, researchers decided to catalog some of the most common passwords. The disturbing trend: People are still using passwords that are easy to guess. In fact, four of the five most commonly used passwords among the ones stolen were 1234, 12345, 123456 and 123456789. The number of accounts that used these simple passwords was in the tens of thousands; this might have been more if most of the companies affected didn’t require users to select a combination of letters and numbers.
Alright, people—haven’t we been around long enough to select better passwords than that? “12345” was the butt of a password joke from way back since a 1987 Mel Brooks film, when most passwords were merely for a person’s briefcase and not even for their online identity.
It’s not surprising, then, that people with weak passwords were also the ones who fell for the botnet scam, which required a person to click on an email, link or attachment in order for the program to infect the computer or mobile device. Let this be a good reminder for all of us to take Internet security seriously.