Germany says 16 mn email accounts compromised

January 21, 2014
Norbert Reithofer, CEO of German car maker BMW reads on an iPad during the Handelsblatt car summit 2013 in Munich, western Germany, on October 28, 2013

German authorities said Tuesday the digital identities of 16 million online users had been stolen, compromising their email accounts, linked social media and other services.

Cybercrime watchdog the Federal Office for Information Security said it had discovered the mass theft of email addresses and passwords as part of an ongoing wider investigation.

Law enforcement officers and researchers had found the list in so-called botnets, networks of hijacked computers whose users usually don't know their hard drives are infected.

About half of the affected accounts had email addresses with Germany's domain-name ending .de.

The office set up a German-language website to allow Internet users to check whether their accounts are affected, but the service initially collapsed under a high number of requests.

Those affected were advised to clean their computers of malware using anti-virus software and to change their passwords, using complex combinations of letters, numbers and symbols.

Explore further: Twitter 'unintentionally' resets people's passwords

Related Stories

Hackers sock smartphone earpiece star Jawbone

February 13, 2013

Jawbone on Wednesday warned users of its earpieces and Jambox speakers that hackers stole names, email addresses and encrypted passwords from accounts used to make the wireless devices smarter.

German companies to automatically encrypt emails (Update)

August 9, 2013

Two of Germany's biggest Internet service providers said Friday they will start encrypting customers' emails by default in response to user concerns about online snooping after reports that the U.S. National Security Agency ...

EPA urged to update rules on secret email accounts

September 30, 2013

Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency have said they did not intend to circumvent federal records laws by using private and secret government email accounts to conduct government business. A new report from ...

Tech Tips: Guide to protecting Internet accounts

December 5, 2013

Security experts say passwords for more than 2 million Facebook, Google and other accounts have been compromised and circulated online, just the latest example of breaches involving leading Internet companies.

Recommended for you

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.