A ring of Russian criminals has acquired 1.2 billion username and password combinations, as well as more than 500 million email addresses, the New York Times reports, amassing the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials.
Cybersecurity firm Hold Security discovered that the group gathered confidential material from 420,000 websites, including household names and small Internet sites, the Times reports. The crime ring, based in a small city in south central Russia, hacked websites inside Russia as well as major Fortune 500 companies abroad.
“[The] hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites,” Alex Holden, the chief information security officer of Hold Security told the Times. “And most of these sites are still vulnerable.”
The criminals have been using the stolen information to send spam on social networks like Twitter, collecting fees for their work. However, it has yet to sell many of the records on the potentially lucrative black market.