Menu
16 million online accounts probably compromised, German government warns

16 million online accounts probably compromised, German government warns

Government invites users to check their email address against a list of 16 million collected by a botnet

A list of 16 million email addresses and passwords has fallen into the hands of botnet operators, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said Tuesday.

It remained unclear though to what these login credentials provide access. They could be logins for mail accounts, Facebook accounts, Amazon accounts or other online services, said BSI Spokesman Tim Griese.

About half of the addresses are from the German .de domain, Griese said, adding that there are also French and .com addresses on the list.

Law enforcement agencies found the list of email addresses and passwords while analyzing several botnets. Only the list of email addresses was shared with the BSI, Griese said.

Users were invited to check their email address against the list by sending their address to the BSI using a website made specially for this purpose. Email addresses that are on the list will then receive an email with a code from the BSI.

The BSI couldn't simply email all the addresses on the list because under German law it is not allowed to send emails to people who did not ask to receive one, Griese said. An email from the BSI about compromised accounts might also be regarded as spam and deleted immediately, he said.

By creating an online tool the BSI circumvents this problem, Griese said, adding that this will hopefully also lead to more awareness of online security.

While the BSI said this was likely a case of large scale identity theft, Griese declined to discuss what the stolen login credentials were or could have been used for while the investigation continues. "We can't tell more about the background," Griese said, adding that for the same reason he couldn't disclose which botnets were involved.

Identity theft however is one of the biggest risks when using the Internet, the BSI said in a news release. Criminals steal identities to act on the behalf of Internet users by sending emails in their place, or shop at the expense of others or do harm to them in other ways, the BSI said.

Users whose account might have been compromised should check their computer for malware, the BSI Said. Because it is unclear at the moment what the stolen login credentials unlock, compromised users should also change all their passwords, Griese said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags fraudIdentity fraud / theftGerman Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)

Featured

Slideshows

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA

Reseller News has honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand ICT industry at the 2019 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards recognised standout individuals across six categories, spanning Entrepreneur, Rising Star, Shining Star, Community, Technical and Achievement. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Leading female front runners of the Kiwi ICT industry honoured at 2019 WIICTA
Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

The 2019 Reseller News Innovation Awards has kicked off with the Judges Lunch in Auckland with 70 judges in the voting panel. The awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors. Photos by Christine Wong.

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch
Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments