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Largest security breach ever: Russian crime ring stole 1.2 billion passwords

What is being called the largest security breach in the world’s history has happened as security researchers claim a Russian crime ring stole confidential Internet information, according to a BBC report on Wednesday. The information which has been stolen includes 1.2 billion usernames and password combinations. Additionally, more than 500 million e-mail addresses have been compromised in the theft.

Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer for Hold Security in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has said that the cyber gang injected malicious code to steal databases from more than 420,000 web sites. He said that it is absolutely the largest breach ever encountered. What he found most unsettling, according to Holden, was that he found his own credentials among the compromised data. He also said that his firm has been monitoring the cyber gang for a little more than a half-a-year but they only recently realized how large the gang’s operation is.

He admits that it was believed that the Russian gang was just a group of run-of-the-mill spammers at first, but now they know that they got very good at stealing the databases. He regretfully states that the perpetrators are in Russia. Therefore, not much can be done because, as he says, these people are outside the law. His investigators know the names of the individuals in the group and their locations, but he refuses to identify the gang.

The firm asserts that it is trying to contact the victims of this data breach. Most of the web sites, however, remain vulnerable. While not identifying the victims by name, he did say that the breached companies include – but apparently is not limited to – the auto industry, real estate, oil companies, car rental businesses, hotels, consulting firms, the food industry, and computer hardware and software firms. In the massive move by the Russian group, SQL database were targeted, according to Holden.

Others in the field are saying that it is never certain how devastating a data breach is. Some believe it takes months for the effects of a breach to be realized. Therefore, some are saying that it may not end up being the largest breach of all time. Yet others are quick to say that this is, in fact, the biggest one and that we can expect more compromises to come out of this horrific event.

According to USA Today, however, Phil Lieberman, the CEO of Lieberman Software, thinks this is just a political statement which is a warning from the Russians – rather than a significant security threat. He thinks this is all about Russia telling the United States to “watch out!” He also says that the Russian government could have prevented this occurrence – but then asks the logical question: Why should they? After all, the U.S. and Russia are not exactly friends at this time.

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