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Topface Cuts Deal With Hacker to Prevent Sale of Massive Email Database

The Russia-based dating website Topface has completed its investigation into the theft of 20 million customer email addresses reported last week.

The Russia-based dating website Topface has completed its investigation into the theft of 20 million customer email addresses reported last week.

The company has confirmed the existence of a vulnerability that allowed a hacker to collect user email addresses. However, Topface representatives highlight the fact that only email addresses have been accessed; passwords, private correspondence, photos and other personal information is safe.

“Due to the fact that we do not store any billing information of users, and authorisation of more than 95% of accounts are going via social networks, we are confident, that third parties could not get any additional data of users. Nevertheless, we have already notified the part of our users who use e-mail as a login for preventive change of a password,” Topface Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Filatov told SecurityWeek.

The hacker, using the online moniker “Mastermind,” offered to sell the email database. However, Topface contacted him and they reached an agreement to prevent the distribution of the information.

“[The hacker] has confirmed the findings of our investigation and has made an agreement with Topface for no further distribution of acquired email addresses database,” Filatov added. “Due to the fact that he has not passed the data to anyone and has no intention to do so in the future, we will not accuse him, moreover, we have paid him an award for finding a vulnerability and agreed on further cooperation in the field of data security.”

The ad for the sale of 20 million email addresses belonging to Topface customers was spotted on a hacker forum by fraud protection and black market monitoring company Easy Solutions, which assisted the dating website during its investigation. The firm noted that the email addresses appeared to belong to users from all over the world, many of them being for Hotmail (7 million), Yahoo (2.5 million), and Gmail (2.2 million).

According to the company’s website, Topface has roughly 92 million users, over half of them being from outside Russia, particularly from Europe and the Americas.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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