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Brinkster.com battens down the hatches

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Web host Brinkster.com is requiring customers to change their account passwords because some of them may have been compromised, according to people who say they've received security bulletins. If confirmed, the breach is the latest example of sensitive information being lost en masse as a result of security lapses by a large service provider.

"Brinkster has reason to believe some User Names and Passwords may have been Compromised," the company warned in an email sent recently to its customers. "To ensure website security, we mandate that you change your password for your account. If you do not change your password, Brinkster will automatically change it for you."

Another version of the email informs customers that their account has already been changed, according to this blog entry. Officials at Brinkster, which claims to be a top hosting provider in the US that serves customers in 175 countries, didn't respond to requests for comment.

(As always, your reporter would be grateful for any additional information our readers can supply. Confidentiality is assured.)

Credit card numbers for Brinkster customers haven't been accessed, according to the email. But the email doesn't vouch for the security of shopping-cart programs and databases that may have been hosted on Brinkster servers. The lack of information is prompting anxiety among some customers.

"This is scary as what happens if someone hack [sic] the system and destroy the website image that I have been trying to develop over the months," an author blogging about the email wrote.

Brinkster's warning is part of a trend of security scares that seem to result from breaches not by individual users but by the service providers they hire. Late yesterday, UK-based ISP PlusNet took responsibility for a breach that exposed thousands of email addresses of subscribers and contacts to spammers. It turns out PlusNet's implementation of the @Mail webmail code was faulty. In addition to purloining email addresses, the perpetrators loaded pop-up malware onto a PlusNet email server that that tried to install a Trojan on to the user's machine.

And according to a story on Security Fix, as much as a third of the sites hosted by IPOWER included code designed to install malware on the machines of those who visited them. Security Fix went on to report that IPOWER's virtual servers, which run scores of sites on a single machine, were running woefully insecure versions of Apache and PHP. That means there's a decent chance at least some of the naughty sites were the result of lapses at IPOWER rather than the fault of the host's customers. ®

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