A massive trove of LinkedIn account data has been found for sale online, containing 500 million user records including email addresses, phone numbers, links to other social media profiles and professional details.
Reported by CyberNews researchers, the leak was posted to a forum popular with hackers by a user asking for a "four-digit $$$$ minimum price" for access to the full database of stolen account information.
SEE: Identity theft protection policy (TechRepublic Premium)
To prove the legitimacy of the info, the leaker included two million records as a sample that users on the form can view for $2 worth of forum-specific credits. CyberNews researchers were able to confirm that the data contained in the sample was legitimate, but added that " it's unclear whether the threat actor is selling up-to-date LinkedIn profiles, or if the data has been taken or aggregated from a previous breach suffered by LinkedIn or other companies."
Included in the leaked data was "a variety of mostly professional information," including LinkedIn IDs, full names, email addresses, phone numbers, user gender, links to LinkedIn profiles, links to other connected social media profiles, professional titles and other work-related data. The leaked data doesn't appear to contain any credit card or other financial details, or legal documents that could be used for fraud.
The lack of financial or identification documentation doesn't mean the leaked data isn't dangerous, though. "Particularly determined attackers can combine information found in the leaked files with other data breaches in order to create detailed profiles of their potential victims. With such information in hand, they can stage much more convincing phishing and social engineering attacks or even commit identity theft against the people whose information has been exposed on the hacker forum," CyberNews said.
SEE: Social engineering: A cheat sheet for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
LinkedIn describes itself as having nearly 740 million users; if the leaker selling this batch of stolen data is telling the truth, then it's safe to assume anyone with a LinkedIn account could be among the 500 million leaked records. With that in mind, LinkedIn users should take precautions to protect their accounts and their personal data by:
- Changing LinkedIn account passwords and email account passwords associated with LinkedIn profiles.
- Creating a strong, random, unique password, and storing it in a password manager that can auto-fill logins.
- Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on LinkedIn accounts and any other account that offers 2FA.
- Being wary of LinkedIn messages and connection requests from unknown people.
- Learning to identify phishing emails and text messages.
- Never opening links to websites from an email, and instead navigating to a site manually and logging in there.
- Installing strong anti-phishing and anti-malware software.
In addition to taking proper precautions with your security, it's also a good idea to subscribe to a website like Have I Been Pwned, which will notify you if your email address is found in a data breach that it has scanned and added to its master database of compromised accounts. If your information appears in a Have I Been Pwned search, it's important to take action immediately using the above security tips.
- How to become a cybersecurity pro: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Social engineering: A cheat sheet for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
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- Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies (ZDNet)
- Cybersecurity and cyberwar: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)