Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

DNA Testing Service MyHeritage Leaks User Data of 92 Million Customers

DNA Testing Service MyHeritage Leaks User Data of 92 Million Customers

Based on the creation dates of some accounts, the breach appears to have taken place on October 26, 2017.

MyHeritage announced the data breach on Monday, June 4, after a security researcher informed them of the breach.

The firm said it was informed of the situation earlier this week when its employees found a file named "myheritage" containing email addresses and hashed passwords on a private server.

"There has been no evidence that the data in the file was ever used by the perpetrators", said Omer Deutsch, the company's chief information security officer in a blog post, adding that the company has not seen any indication that the accounts had been compromised. "This means that anyone gaining access to the hashed passwords does not have the actual passwords", the company said.

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MyHeritage doesn't believe any other systems were compromised.

The email addresses are valuable though, and such a huge list would be a handy starting point for criminals to launch a phishing campaign.

"MyHeritage does not store user passwords, but rather a one-way hash of each password, in which the hash key differs for each customer", the company said.

The company emphasized that it does not store sensitive information, like user DNA data or family information, on the same system where it stores user email addresses.

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The company has set up what it refers to as an "Information Security Incident Response Team" in order to investigate the incident, and says that it is trying to determine the scope of the incident and find out how to prevent it happening again. So the passwords are probably safe, but MyHeritage has advised all its users to change theirs regardless, and they should.

The MyHeritage incident marks the biggest data breach of the year, and the biggest leak since last year's Equifax hack.

MyHeritage lets users build family trees, search historical records and hunt for potential relatives. The company said that it seems as though email addresses were the only data affected and no evidence suggests that the data was used for any nefarious objective.

DNA databases have come under closer scrutiny as more online companies commoditize the service, offering genetic sequencing at low prices and warehouse the data. "It's unfortunate that user email addresses were exposed, but by partitioning servers, using third parties for payment processing and encrypting passwords, MyHeritage has - at least so far - minimized the damage of this breach".

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