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Massive security breach compromises emails, passwords of Swedish politicians

Posted 27 October 2011 13:00 CET by Justin_Massoud

A hacker hijacked Swedish politician William Petzäll’s Twitter account, using it to leak the email/password combinations of nearly 200,000 people. Some are calling it the worst security breach in Sweden’s history, affecting elected officials, journalists and even local celebrities.

Swedish news site The Local reports that 90,000 passwords were stolen from blogging site Bloggtoppen alone. Another 90,000 were lifted from 57 sites.

Before it was shut down, Petzäll’s Twitter account propagated the illicit info dump. The 23-year-old member of Sweden’s Parliament Riksdag is currently receiving treatment for drug addiction and was unaware that his Twitter account was compromised.

A hacker calling himself “sc3a5j” eventually took credit for the mess, telling Swedish publication Expressen that his intentions were altruistic.

“I dumped this information to let people know that they handle their information wrongly,” he explained. “Many web pages are not up to scratch. And consumers need to know they should never use the same [passwords] for different services on the web. This is how we got into Twitter accounts as well.”

Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge was shocked at the scope of the breach. Falkvinge admitted one of his passwords was leaked, adding that it could have been much, much worse.

“If I had used the same password as on the Pirate Party’s admin systems, an attacker would have had complete control of the party’s finances, projects, mail, membership and activist rosters, and communications. That would have been bad,” he said.

Password security is an Achilles’ Heel for web denizens, but it doesn’t have to be.

“If you’re a computer user – whether you’re Swedish or not – it’s time to learn to use different passwords for different websites,” said Graham Cluley, Sophos senior security consultant. “If you think you won’t be able to remember different passwords, use secure password vaults such as KeePass or 1Password.”

How secure is your online information? Let us know in the comment section.

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