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Unknown malware hijacks 16 million German email accounts

21 Jan 2014
Security threats - password theft

Hackers have compromised over 16 million German email accounts, according to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)

The BSI revealed the news in an alert notification, confirming it has already set up a site to let concerned citizens find out if their accounts have been breached.

"In the analysis of botnets by research institutions and law enforcement agencies around 16 million user accounts were found to be compromised," read the alert. "[The BSI] has set up a website where citizens can check whether they are affected by the identity theft."

It is currently unclear what malware was used to compromise the accounts or if the BSI has shut down the operation. At the time of publishing the BSI had not responded to V3's request for comment.

The BSI warned affected web users to change their passwords sooner rather than later, as the information could be used to mount follow-on attacks. "Users should change all passwords they use to log on to social networking sites, online shops, email accounts and other online services," read the statement.

Data-stealing cyber attacks have been a growing problem for the public and private sector. Numerous security vendors have reported an increase in the number of active hack campaigns in the past year. Telecoms giant Cisco said cumulative annual threat alert levels increased by 14 percent over the last year, in its latest threat report.

Fighting cyber threats has been one of the UK government's central goals since it launched its Cyber Security Strategy in 2011. The strategy has seen the government launch a variety of anti-hacker initiatives. The Home Office launched a new Cyber Streetwise campaign earlier in January, hoping to educate businesses and citizens about how to protect themselves from hackers.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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