NEW YORK (AP) - Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion user names and passwords in a series of Internet heists affecting 420,000 websites, according to a report published Tuesday.
The identities of the websites that were broken into weren’t identified by reporters, which cited nondisclosure agreements that required their security firm to keep some information confidential.
The reported break-ins are the latest incidents to raise doubts about the security measures that both big and small companies use to protect people’s information online.
Security experts believe hackers will continue breaking into computer networks unless companies become more vigilant.
Retailer Target is still struggling to win back its shoppers’ trust after hackers believed to be attacking from Eastern Europe stole 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million addresses, phone numbers and other personal information last winter.
Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, told the Times that most of the sites hit by the Russian hackers are still vulnerable to further break-ins.
Besides filching 1.2 billion online passwords, the hackers also have amassed 500 million email addresses that could help them engineer other crimes, according to Hold Security.
So, far little of the information stolen in the wave of attacks appears to have been sold to other online crooks, according to the reporters.
Instead, they believe the information is being used to send marketing pitches, schemes and other junk messages on social networks on Twitter.