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LinkedIn Sued After Server Breach Exposed Millions of Passwords

LinkedIn Law Suit Seeks $5M In Damages Over Lax Security Practices

Earlier this month, June 5 to be exact, someone uploaded approximately 6.5 million passwords to a Russian online forum. The upload turned into a community password effort and a lesson in password security for the corporate social network. Now, LinkedIn is facing a lawsuit for alleged security failures that in some cases are legitimate complaints.

The class action lawsuit seeks a trial by jury, and was filed by Katie Szpyrka of Illinois. She has been a paid member of LinkedIn since 2010, and paid $26 per month for her account. In her suit, she says that LinkedIn violated their own privacy policy when they claimed to comply with industry data security standards.

LinkedIn Breach Analysis

“LinkedIn failed to use a modern hashing and salting function, and therefore drastically exacerbated the consequences of a hacker by bypassing its outer layer of security. In so doing, defendant violated its privacy policy's promise to comply with industry standard protocols and technology for data security,” the initial complaint says. "That LinkedIn did not recognize its databases had been compromised until it was informed through public channels provides further evidence that the company didn't adhere to industry standards. Specifically, LinkedIn did not implement, or it poorly implemented, an intrusion detection system to properly identify and quickly respond to attacks on its servers."

The lawsuit also makes mention of the fact that notices related to the breach were delivered too late to matter, noting that when they were eventually released, they were blocked by spam filters.

Last week, SecurityWeek reported on this interesting observation, when Cloudmark said users were marking legit LinkedIn emails as spam, ignoring the warnings being delivered entirely. It was suggested that the legit warnings were getting the axe because of the media hype covering the risk of Phishing and other fraud related to the breach.

Almost as soon as word of LinkedIn’s problems hit the wires, experts started warning about password related scams and Phishing attempts.

“Over four percent of the people receiving this email, thought it was spam and sent it straight to the bit bucket. If LinkedIn sends out 6.5 million emails, then a quarter of a million people are congratulating themselves on avoiding spam, and still have a compromised LinkedIn password,” Cloudmark explained.

Szpyrka is seeking $5 million in damages. LinkedIn says the suit is without merit and that they will fight it.

Related Reading: LinkedIn Breach: How a 6.5M Hole Could Sink a 160M Ship

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.