LinkedIn password hack sueball kicked to the kerb by judge
Leaked hashes not an automatic threat of identity theft
A class-action lawsuit launched against LinkedIn after hackers leaked the website's user passwords has been dismissed before reaching trial.
Northern California US District Judge Edward Davila ruled that two premium-account holders had been unable to demonstrate they suffered any actual harm as a result of the 2012 hack, which resulted in the online exposure of 6.5 million password hashes.
LinkedIn failed to salt these encoded login credentials, which were created using the outdated SHA-1 algorithm. Salting hashes, for the uninitiated, thwarts attempts to recover the original passwords.
The duo sought compensation for an alleged breach of contract, claiming in part that they would not have paid to upgrade to a premium account if they had known that the social network didn't offer industry-recommend security even to its paying customers.
However, Judge Davila said premium users were paying for extra networking tools and website features rather than tighter security.
Judge Davilia tossed out the case after ruling that the exposure of Wright's password didn't necessarily place her at greater risk of identity theft.
It was feared miscreants would crack the unsalted password hashes, discover the original passwords and use them to unlock accounts on other websites as too many folks reuse the same login credentials across the web for convenience.
But the breach didn't result in any financial harm or injury to Wright, according to the judge:
Wright merely alleges that her LinkedIn password was “publicly posted on the Internet on June 6, 2012”. In doing so, Wright fails to show how this amounts to a legally cognizable injury, such as, for example, identify theft or theft of her personally identifiable information.
Judge Davila's ruling can be found here [PDF]. ®