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Facebook makes Adobe fans change their horrible, horrible passwords

Maybe try '56789' this time?

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Facebook has scanned millions of email address and password pairs hackers dumped online from Adobe's user account database – so that it can force its social networkers to change their passwords if they used the same logins details for both websites.

Late last month, Adobe warned of "sophisticated attacks" on its network in which miscreants swiped between 38 and 150 million names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, poorly secured passwords, expiration dates, and information relating to customer orders. In addition, the company said, the cyber-crooks had managed to abscond with source code for "numerous Adobe products."

Knowing full well that people too often use the same password for different website accounts, Facebook has pored over the leaked records, and identified who has matching addresses and passphrases for both Adobe.com and their Facebook accounts.

Engineers at the social network confirmed to investigative journo Brian Krebs that they have alerted users who now at risk of account hijacking because the dumped database is in the wild, and thus anyone can try to login as someone using the leaked data.

Thus, the move allows Facebook to force users off passwords that could otherwise have been guessed by attackers who possess the Adobe lists. Such leaks have in the past been used to hijack accounts on third-party services.

Adobe coughed to its stunning network breach in late October - some months after it acknowledged the presence of serious security flaws in its ColdFusion product, although Adobe denies it was compromised via that vulnerable server software.

While the use of a single password across multiple services is a complete no-no, the practice remains common as folks prefer to stick to one easy-to-remember login credential rather than juggle banks of separate passwords.

Experts have long recommended that users keep a different password for each service and employ memory tricks such as mnemonics, as well as mixed case and alphanumeric combinations. Such methods can typically foil brute-force techniques used by hackers (unless the site screws up its database security or uses Adobe ColdFusion, of course.)

Even better, users can add an additional layer of security beyond their password by enabling Facebook's two-factor authentication system which requires a single-use code to be entered at login. ®

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