On Thursday hacker group Lulzsec released 62,000 email addresses and passwords to the public, putting not only email accounts, but Facebook, Twitter and other accounts that people regularly use at risk. In most cases it was user stupidity in using the same password for multiple sites, meaning that one compromise resulted in them all being compromised, but it was not originally clear how Lulzsec got the passwords in the first place.

Now we know that at least 12,000 of them were gained from Writerspace.com, which today admitted it was the victim of a major hack. Lulzsec doesn’t appear to have any motive beyond doing it for the fun of it, so writers need not fear that they are being specifically targeted. It’s likely that a massive security hole was found in the Writerspace website, making it easy to gain access to the database of members. And, of course, I assume the passwords were not encrypted.

Sufficed to say, internet users should make sure they are using more secure passwords and not using them for several different web sites. If you sign up to a website with user@email.com, the name ‘user’ and the password ‘opensesame’ and this is identical to your login and password for that email address then a hack on that website immediately exposes your email address as well. Then if you use the same for Paypal and social networking sites, you’ve effectively revealed your entire online identity. Play it safe.

Categories: Writing

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