RockYou, a service that offers applications like slideshows, games, layouts and more for social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace or Orkut was recently hacked and the service's entire database of 30+ million data sets exposed to hackers in the process.
This alone would have been problematic but the situation grew worse when it became clear that the passwords were stored in plain text in the databases.
This means that more than 30 million complete sets of emails, usernames and passwords were exposed to third parties. At least one hacker managed to get hold of all the data of which the passwords and a small sample was posted on the Internet.
RockYou users who have an account at the service should immediately change the passwords for all their services that use the password and email address to avoid that these accounts are compromised.
RockYou did not only store login information about its own service but also for third party websites like Facebook or MySpace to make it as easy as possible for users to use the data with their social networking accounts.
This means that MySpace, Bebo or Facbeook login information have also been stored on Rockyou servers if the user has entered them before on their website (see Techcrunch for additional information)
Security company Imperva got hold of the 30+ million passwords that have been selected by RockYou users to secure their accounts. Their findings are alarming:
The password popularity chart is therefor dominated by easy to guess passwords just as 123456, Password, rockyou or abc123. The full report of the findings can be downloaded from the Imperva server as a pdf document.
If a hacker would have used the list of the top 5000 passwords as a dictionary for brute force attack on Rockyou. com users, it would take only one attempt (per account) to guess 0.9% of the users passwords or a rate of one success per 111 attempts. Assuming an attacker with a DSL connection of 55KBPS upload rate and that each attempt is 0.5KB in size, it means that the attacker can have 110 attempts per second. At this rate, a hacker will gain access to one new account every second or just less than 17 minutes to compromise 1000 accounts. And the problem is exponential. After the frst wave of attacks, it would only take 116 attempts per account to compromise 5% of the accounts, 683 attempts to compromise 10% of accounts and about 5000 attempts to compromise 20% of accounts.
Recommendations for users
The easiest way to ensure all this is to use a password manager that can generate strong passwords and save them for the user. We recommend Last Pass which is available for several popular web browsers.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.