50 Million LivingSocial Users Hacked

Add LivingSocial to the list of major online businesses that have been hacked. Forbes and New York Times have reported that 70% of user data at this “daily deals” firm has been hacked; 50 million out of their 70 million users! This incident is more of a story about the advancement of hackers than the foolishness of LivingSocial, and it serves as a warning to all online business  and users to watch out.

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LivingSocial reported that no credit card information was hacked, but usernames, email addresses, passwords and date of births were. Most people assume that this is not a big deal because the hackers do not have users’ credit card information, but an entrance into your email introduces a whole new world of information for hackers. Think about how many websites you use the same email addresses and passwords for, now think about what could happen if a hacker has that information. Scared? Should be. We, as internet users, tend to not worry about the information we give to websites, but this is what can happen when a website’s security is breached; the company is not the only one who suffers, the users do too.

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This incident is not primarily a case of LivingSocial’s negligence, but more an example of “sophisticated” hackers. LivingSocial does make a conscience attempt to protect their users’ information through a method of “hashing” passwords. As New York Times reported, hashing “involves mashing users’ passwords with a mathematical algorithim.” LivingSocial did this to make it harder for information to be hacked, but they did not make it impossible. This case shows the advancement of the tactics of hackers, and how they are learning to beat methods like hashing. This incident relates to our discussions on IT security, and I think it is a relevant reminder to all to use different passwords and usernames to make it harder for hackers to be able to access your information. In addition, I think it is a reminder that we need to be careful as to what information we put on which websites, to make sure we make smart decisions as we become more reliant on technology. How secure do you feel on the Internet?

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4 thoughts on “50 Million LivingSocial Users Hacked

  1. Great post! It really makes you think twice about how safe information is on the Internet. I read an article about LivingSocial’s password breach as well and apparently they use a hashing algorithm that is the least secure compared to other algorithms that could be used. The algorithm LivingSocial uses is meant to operate efficiently and use few resources, but it sacrifices the quality that other algorithms provide. I think that this is a major consideration because it shows that companies are essentially taking the easy way out and may not be protecting their users as well as they could. I think it would be in the company’s best interests to invest in a better algorithm to disguise passwords because they may lose a large consumer base after a password breach on such a large scale like this one.

  2. Very interesting post, Timothy. It’s alarming to see how skiled hackers are these days, breaching new methods of encrypting passwords, while also doing it fast enough before the company has even realized that they are being hacked. In this case, the hackers were able to obtain the information from 50 million users rather quickly. Although these victims didn’t have their credit card information stolen, this incident reminded me of the attack on the Playstation Network where each of its customers weren’t so lucky. Back in 2011, a record number, 77 million accounts were hacked, stealing personal information, credit card numbers, and prevented them from playing their consoles online for more than three weeks.

  3. This is a really interesting post because it is so relevant to the guest lecture we had about this issue and it shows the large scale that these things can happen on. Also I would have had the same reaction as most people did before the class we had on these types of issues: who cares as long as they dont have my credit card information? It is scary to think about though. I have so much information that is online all protected by the same or similar passwords. Most of the time I think that no one will hack me because they are going for big companies but its interesting to know that they use these big complex hackings to get individual information so that they can steal a little from everyone rather than a lot from one person. This is a really cool article great job!

  4. My favorite part of this essay was when you discussed the idea that most people use the same username and password for tons of websites. I know that I, myself, use the same name and password for most of the ones I need to because I am lazy. As we talked about in class, hackers are using computers to continuously guess passwords until they get it right. It only takes them a couple days to guess correctly. I think it is smart that the company does not have important credit card information on their accounts, in case something like this happened. Nice post Timothy J.

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