Quora Looks for Answers in Wake of Massive Data Breach

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Quora Looks for Answers in Wake of Massive Data Breach

The private knowledge of some 100 million individuals who have used Quora, a preferred query and reply web site, has been compromised, the corporate disclosed Monday.

“We recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to one of our systems by a malicious third party,” wrote Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo in an internet submit.

“We are working rapidly to investigate the situation further and take the appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in the future,” he added.

The intrusion — which was found Friday, D’Angelo famous — positioned the next data of Quora customers in danger:

  • Account data, similar to identify, electronic mail tackle, hashed password and knowledge imported from linked networks when approved by customers;
  • Public content material and actions, similar to questions, solutions, feedback and “upvotes”;
  • and

  • Non-public content material and actions, similar to reply requests, downvotes and direct messages.

“It is highly unlikely that this incident will result in identity theft, as we do not collect sensitive personal information like credit card or social security numbers,” states a response on the corporate’s FAQ web page.

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Mild Breach

Compared to different massive knowledge breaches — such because the breach on the Marriott lodge chain final week, which affected some 500 million clients and enabled intruders to steal bank card numbers, dates of beginning and passport numbers — the Quora assault is comparatively delicate, stated Ted Rossman, an business analyst with Creditcards.com in Austin, Texas.

“The Quora breach seems more contained,” he informed TechNewsWorld. “It was information that was already public or things that are not that sensitive, like email addresses.”

The danger for most Quora customers is not that extreme, remarked Paul Bischoff, privateness advocate at Comparitech, a opinions, recommendation and knowledge web site centered on client safety merchandise.

“The stolen passwords are hashed and no payment information was breached, so there’s little immediate threat to most people,” he informed TechNewsWorld.

“However, the small portion of users who utilized Quora’s direct messaging platform might have exposed private information sent to other users,” Bischoff added.

All private data — not simply passwords and bank card numbers — might be invaluable to knowledge abusers, although.

“As we saw with the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, access to personal likes, tastes, and other preferences can be used against individuals,” Javvad Malik, a safety advocate at AlienVault, a risk intelligence firm in San Mateo, California, informed TechNewsWorld.

Chilling Effect on Sharing

Theft of knowledge on the web site additionally might produce other penalties for Quora.

“Since this is a knowledge-sharing platform, one of the risks of an incident like this is it could deter people from engaging in that kind of activity, which is productive and useful,” stated Thomas Jackson, chair of the expertise observe group at Phillips Nizer, a regulation agency in New York City.

“Breaches like the one at Marriott put clients at risk because so much customer data is exposed,” he informed TechNewsWorld. “In the Quora case, the main issue is going to be the willingness of inviduals to contribute going forward. Will it have a negative effect on postings and new signups?”

Once a breach happens, the harm is finished and there isn’t any taking it again, added Bischoff.

“That being said, other than being breached, Quora did pretty much everything right,” he continued. “Passwords were stored as hashes and not in plain text. Quora promptly notified users of the breach and took action to remedy the issue.”

Leveraging Social Media Logins

Although information seekers with Quora-only accounts could also be at minimal danger from the information breach, that may not be the case for those that use different companies, similar to Facebook and Google, to log into the web site.

“For people who log into Quora using Facebook or Google authentication, there may be more identity information leaked, depending how much is contained in their Facebook or Google profiles,” stated Mounir Hahad, head of the risk lab for Juniper Networks, a community safety and efficiency firm based mostly in Sunnyvale, California.

“People need to make sure their Google and Facebook profiles contain a minimal amount of personal information,” he informed TechNewsWorld. “For example, neither service needs to know your exact date of birth to provide you with services.”

The most helpful data stolen by the cybercriminals possible can be a large checklist of legitimate electronic mail addresses, Hahad stated.

“Hackers will often turn around and sell this data on the underground market,” he defined. “Typical buyers are those that run spam platforms that cater to people trying to push products or build botnets.”

What’s a Consumer to Do?

Consumers involved in regards to the dangers posed to them by the Quora breach can take a quantity of steps to guard themselves.

“They should decouple their Quora accounts from other platforms,” really helpful Mike Bittner, digital safety and operations supervisor at The Media Trust, a web site and cell utility safety firm in McLean, Virginia.

“They should also change all their passwords, applying unique credentials to each one,” he informed TechNewsWorld, “and check their credit cards for any unauthorized charges.”

Maintaining distinctive passwords throughout all accounts is especially necessary, famous James Carder, CISO for LogRhythm, a cybersecurity options firm in Boulder, Colorado.

“It’s common for attackers to sweep other consumer platforms to test credentials they just stole,” he informed TechNewsWorld.

Quora customers additionally ought to be looking out for elevated phishing and different assaults,he suggested, because the black hats may need sufficient data to craft specifically focused ploys.

More of the Same in the Future

Until the Quora and Marriott assaults, 2018 was shaping as much as be a down 12 months for breaches, with 670 million data misplaced, in comparison with 1.58 billion in 2017, famous Terry Ray, CTO of Imperva, an internet utility firewall maker in Redwood City, California.

“Now, with two back-to-back major breaches compromising roughly 600 million total accounts, 2018 is in striking distance of matching or exceeding last year,” he informed TechNewsWorld.

The future would not look brilliant, until you are a knowledge thief.

“All companies, regardless of size, should expect to be targeted by attackers and prepare themselves by knowing all the third parties they work with,” The Media Trust’s Bittner warned.

“Attacks are not a matter of if, but when,” he added.

“Until companies can adequately protect their customers, this trend will not slow down, and the prognosis will not trend positively,” Carder predicted.

“I thought the Equifax breach last year — where they let 150 million accounts slip out the cracks — would be a tipping point,” stated Creditcards.com’s Rossman, “but a year, later very little has changed. It’s up to us to protect ourselves.”


John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus embody cybersecurity, IT points, privateness, e-commerce, social media, synthetic intelligence, massive knowledge and client electronics. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government Security News. Email John.



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