Hackers Stole 92M Users Data, Genealogy & DNA Testing Service Says

by Samuel Abasi Posted on June 6th, 2018

Web-based genealogy and DNA testing platform, MyHeritage, announced late Monday that hackers breached its system and stole emails and hidden passwords belonging to 92,283,889 users who had signed up for the genealogy service before late October 2017, when the company says the breach occurred..

MyHeritage said it became aware of the breach, which occurred last year, just this week. The company said that it has no evidence that other sensitive information was taken or that the stolen data was used for malicious purposes.

Users of the Israeli-based company can create family trees and search through historical records to try and uncover their ancestry. In January 2017, Israeli media reported the company has some 35 million family trees on its website.

Although it appears that hackers have not accessed MyHeritage accounts themselves, as the company notes, this is still a good opportunity to remember not to use the same password on multiple sites and services. MyHeritage also says in its announcement that it will be rolling out two factor authentication to all users; if you’re concerned about someone accessing your MyHeritage data in the future, it is certainly worth enabling that feature too.

Below is the company’s statement:

MyHeritage Statement About a Cybersecurity Incident

“Today, June 4, 2018 at approximately 1pm EST, MyHeritage’s Chief Information Security Officer received a message from a security researcher that he had found a file named myheritage containing email addresses and hashed passwords, on a private server outside of MyHeritage. Our Information Security Team received the file from the security researcher, reviewed it, and confirmed that its contents originated from MyHeritage and included all the email addresses of users who signed up to MyHeritage up to October 26, 2017, and their hashed passwords.

Immediately upon receipt of the file, MyHeritage’s Information Security Team analyzed the file and began an investigation to determine how its contents were obtained and to identify any potential exploitation of the MyHeritage system. We determined that the file was legitimate and included the email addresses and hashed passwords of 92,283,889 users who had signed up to MyHeritage up to and including Oct 26, 2017 which is the date of the breach. MyHeritage does not store user passwords, but rather a one-way hash of each password, in which the hash key differs for each customer. This means that anyone gaining access to the hashed passwords does not have the actual passwords.

The security researcher reported that no other data related to MyHeritage was found on the private server. There has been no evidence that the data in the file was ever used by the perpetrators. Since Oct 26, 2017 (the date of the breach) and the present we have not seen any activity indicating that any MyHeritage accounts had been compromised.

We believe the intrusion is limited to the user email addresses. We have no reason to believe that any other MyHeritage systems were compromised. As an example, credit card information is not stored on MyHeritage to begin with, but only on trusted third-party billing providers (e.g. BlueSnap, PayPal) utilized by MyHeritage. Other types of sensitive data such as family trees and DNA data are stored by MyHeritage on segregated systems, separate from those that store the email addresses, and they include added layers of security. We have no reason to believe those systems have been compromised.

Steps We’ve Taken

Immediately upon learning about the incident, we set up an Information Security Incident Response Team to investigate the incident. We are also taking immediate steps to engage a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to conduct comprehensive forensic reviews to determine the scope of the intrusion; and to conduct an assessment and provide recommendations on steps that can be taken to help prevent such an incident from occurring in the future.

We are taking steps to inform relevant authorities including as per GDPR.

We will be expediting our work on the upcoming two-factor authentication feature that we will make available to all MyHeritage users soon. This will allow users interested in taking advantage of it, to authenticate themselves using a mobile device in addition to a password, which will further harden their MyHeritage accounts against illegitimate access.

We set up a 24/7 security customer support team to assist customers who have concerns or questions about the incident.

What Our Users Should Do

MyHeritage users who have questions or concerns about this incident can contact our security customer support team via email on privacy@myheritage.com or by phone via the toll-free number (USA) +1 888 672 2875, available 24/7.

For all registered users of MyHeritage, we recommend that for maximum safety, they change their password on MyHeritage. The procedure for doing this is described in the MyHeritage FAQ article. Once MyHeritage releases the upcoming two-factor-authentication feature, we recommend to all our users to take advantage of it.

For now, there are no other actions that MyHeritage users need to take as a result of this incident. However, we always recommend that you take the time to evaluate your security practices. Please, avoid using the same password for multiple services or websites. It’s good practice to use stronger passwords and to change them often.

Going Forward

As always, your privacy and the security of your data are our highest priority. We continually assess our procedures and policies and seek new ways to improve our approach to security. We understand the importance of our role as custodians of your information and work every day to earn your trust.

Thank you for your understanding.”

Author

Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

A computer programmer who is also very proficient with hardware, Sam follows sports, science and tech news and everything else in between with an unrivaled passion that keeps readers coming back. Sam is also proficient in use of most online journalism tools and Social media management
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