A faulty backup has leaked 1.37 billion email addresses, exposing the entire operation of one of the largest spam operations in existence. This is a colossal data security breach, and it involves not only email addresses, but in some cases, IP addresses, real names, and physical addresses as well.
Luckily, aside from email addresses, other sensitive personal information has been leaked on a much smaller scale.
MacKeepers, a data security research company, believes that the leaked information stems from River City Media, an email marketing firm that sends up to one billion email messages a day.
According to Chris Vickery from MacKeepers, it is likely that well-informed individuals did not opt in to receive bulk advertisements over a billion times. He speculates that they were somehow duped into doing so.
One of the techniques employed by spammers is called co-registration. For example, when you click on the ‘Submit’ or ‘I agree’ box, there is often fine print somewhere on the site that states that you agree with sharing your personal details with the website’s affiliates.
Spamhaus, an anti-spam organisation, has blacklisted River City Media’s entire infrastructure.
To illustrate the colossal proportions of this data security breach, when Vickery initially reported that he gained access to 1.37 billion records, India’s national government issued a statement denying it was the source. This was done in order to put an end to speculation that was running rampant. The country’s federal ID system is one of the world’s few databases that contains more than 1 billion records.