MyHeritage Genealogy Site Announces Mega Breach Affecting 92 Million Accounts

MyHeritage Genealogy Site Announces Mega Breach Affecting 92 Million Accounts

"This breach of MyHeritage seems to be the rare instance in which a company in possession of sensitive data adhered to some of the best practices in password posture by not storing them in plain text but as one-way hashes", said Balbix CEO, Gaurav Banga.

The breach "included all the email addresses of users who signed up to MyHeritage up to October 26, 2017, and their hashed passwords", affecting 92,283,889 users. Its database now has DNA samples from over 1.25 million people. MyHeritage doesn't store user passwords.

The incident was brought to the ancestry site's attention by a security researcher who came across the file named "myheritage" on a private server outside of MyHeritage.

In response the the incident, MyHeritage is rolling out two-factor authentication, which lets users login using a code sent to a mobile device in addition to a password. But since the official statement makes no mention of the hashing algorithm used, it's really impossible to say at this point.

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When you trust a company for genealogy and DNA testing services, you trust them with your highly sensitive private data. In 2012 and 2016 nearly 200 million LinkedIn user passwords went on sale following a 2012 breach, despite the fact the service hashed its passwords.

Mr Deutsch added: "Immediately upon receipt of the file, MyHeritage's Information Security Team analysed the file and began an investigation to determine how its contents were obtained and to identify any potential exploitation of the MyHeritage system". A hacker able to decrypt the hashed passwords exposed in the breach could access personal information accessible when logging into someone's account, such as the identity of family members. Credit card information, for example, isn't stored on the website but with trusted third-party payment processors like BlueSnap and PayPal. "We have no reason to believe that any other MyHeritage systems were compromised".

In its statement, the company emphasized that DNA data is stored "on segregated systems and are separate from those that store the email addresses, and they include added layers of security". Nevertheless, the company recommends that all users change their passwords "for maximum safety".

A full report will likely take a while; the company is planning to hire an external security firm to look into the breach, and is working on notifying relevant authorities under USA laws and GDPR, among others.

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