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Amazon Preventively Resets Customer Passwords

Amazon has prompted some of its customers to reset their passwords after learning that these might have been used to secure other online accounts as well.

Amazon has prompted some of its customers to reset their passwords after learning that these might have been used to secure other online accounts as well.

The company has informed its users via email that they should change their passwords, claiming that, during a “routine monitoring,” it discovered a list of email and password pairs posted online and decided to act on it. However, the company also revealed that the list was “not Amazon-related.”

“We know that many customers reuse their passwords on several websites. We believe your email address and password set was on that list. So we have taken the precaution of resetting your password,” Amazon reportedly told users.

Considering the large number of data breaches that emerged over the past several months, it’s no wonder that Amazon would make such a move as a precautionary measure. Other online services also check the Internet for username and password combinations that appear in leaked credentials, to ensure that their users don’t reuse them.

Some of the largest hacks revealed this year include Dropbox (68 million accounts impacted), LinkedIn (167 million), Myspace (360 million), Tumblr (65 million), (43 million), and VK (170 million). The list is rounded up by Yahoo!, which confirmed last month that no less than 500 million users might have been impacted in a data breach that occurred in 2014.

What Amazon hasn’t revealed, is how long the list of usernames/passwords combos was or where they managed to find it. However, the numerous user database dumps posted online recently undoubtedly provided Amazon with plenty of possibilities in this regard.

In the email to its customers, Amazon is also said to have prompted users not only to choose a new password, different from the one previously used on its website, but also to make sure that the password isn’t used on another site. In other words, a unique password should be used on each and every online service that a person uses.

Impacted users should consider changing their password on every other online service as well, to ensure they remain protected. They should also consider using a password manager, which could make the handling of multiple accounts and passwords a much easier task.

We contacted Amazon for an official statement on the matter and we will update the story as soon as we receive a reply.

Attacks that leverage leaked account details were already seen earlier this year, after the first round of mega-breaches emerged. GitHub accounts were targeted in those attacks, and the online service decided to reset the passwords of multiple users after their accounts were compromised by hackers.

Related: Microsoft May Ban Your Favorite Password

Related: Amazon Forces Password Resets after Possible Security Breach

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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