On July 2015, a highly frequented video rental chain, Hemmakvall, fell victim to a cyber breach of its database. The video rental chain was using Magneto, an e-commerce platform, to run its site. Unfortunately, there was a security vulnerability in the Magneto software that had not been patched, giving the cyber criminals access to Hemmakvall’s database and customer’s sensitive personal information.
It is estimated that as many as 50,000 customers personal data was exposed publicly, including many high profile individuals and entities such as: political ministers, police agencies, governmental institutions, military personnel, and the Swedish Tax Agency. The stolen data included the names, email addresses, street addresses, phone numbers and passwords of Hemmakvall’s customers. The data from the hack was publicly posted on a website forum that details cyber intrusions and stolen information.
Adding to the dilemma is the fact that Hemmakvall customer’s passwords were being stored using a less than adequate hashing algorithm, MD5, which is reportedly a fairly simple method for any hacker to quickly crack. However, a spokeswoman for Hemmakvall marketing, Jaana Thoren downplayed the password breach stating that the encryption used to store passwords is “powerful, but that Hemmakvall will take protective action.”
Hemmakvall did shut down the website temporarily and began notifying customers immediately that the company was initiating a system wide password reset for all its customers who were using the website. The company stated this was done as a precautionary measure to ensure that it would prevent any further malicious activity the hackers might seek to carry out.
Magneto has made patches available so that its users (Hemmakvall) can eradicate the vulnerabilities that the cyber criminals used to gain access to their software users databases. In the scope of cyber attacks approximately 50,000 possible victims is relatively small by comparison to other recent data dumps, but it is the prominence of governmental agencies, police and political figures that heightens the seriousness of this breach because the information could be used not only for identity theft purposes, but possible cyber espionage.
There is the additional risk to Hemmakvall customers that their exposed user names, email addresses and passwords can lead to criminal activity on other websites when the customer has used the same user name and password for multiple sites, which unwisely many people admit to doing.
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