Feeds

10,000 Hotmail passwords mysteriously leaked to web

Phishing booty free for taking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Updated Login credentials for more than 10,000 Microsoft Live accounts have been posted to the internet, most likely by miscreants who found them or harvested them in a phishing attack.

In all, there were 10,028 pairs of user names and passwords posted to multiple pages of public upload website Pastebin.com, some of which remained live at time of writing. The stash is likely only a small sample of a much larger haul, since the alphabetical list begins with the user name ararat973@hoymail.com and concludes with blando2713@hotmail.com.

The discovery coincided with unsubstantiated posts that claimed passwords for all Windows Live accounts had been leaked. That seemed highly unlikely. If one assumed there were 5,500 accounts beginning with each letter of the alphabet - a crude estimate based on the sample - that would come to just 143,000 compromised accounts total. That's a tiny fraction of the 450 million or so total Windows Live accounts out there.

The leak is most likely the result of miscreants who harvested the passwords using keystroke-logging trojans or phishing scams. A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company doesn't store passwords in the clear and said its security team has been investigating the leak since this weekend.

"Upon learning of the issue, we immediately requested that the credentials be removed and launched an investigation to determine the impact to customers," she wrote in an email. "As part of that investigation, we determined that this was not a breach of internal Microsoft data and initiated our standard process of working to help customers regain control of their accounts."

A quick web search reveals a wide variety of active campaigns to steal hotmail login credentials. One of them, documented here on the NirSoft.net blog, is dubbed the msn-blocked.com scam and is named after one of the early domain names used to hoodwink users into revealing their hotmail password. Over the past few months, the people behind it have repeatedly changed the domain names used in the scam and have also added support for multiple languages. The sites promise to send invitations to all a victims' contacts.

No doubt, other password-stealing scams abound. The question is how the details, which normally are kept under wraps by the people who worked so hard to filch them, managed to go public. One theory is they were inadvertently published when they were stored on a server that was visible to search engine spiders and then republished on Pastebin. Or the miscreants may have decided to share them with world + dog out of twisted sense of altruism.

While one of the pages containing the credentials was published on October 1, Google caches show the same details published almost a week earlier. The list has been the topic of conversation on several online forums, with some participants making the unconfirmed claim that all accounts were breached.

The appropriation of a web-based email account can often lead to much bigger compromises because many people tie online accounts for banks and e-commerce sites to their addresses. Those who have any doubt about the security of their Windows Live addresses ought to change their passwords immediately out of an abundance of caution. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.