26M LiveJournal bloggers’ credentials a hit on dark web six years later

Six years after blogging platform LiveJournal was hacked, the credentials of some 26 million users are being sold and traded on multiple hacker forums and the dark market.

Complicating the breach’s fallout, the database’s old and/or unique passwords have allowed bad actors to launch targeted sextortion email campaigns.

Another blogging platform, Dreamwidth, says it’s withstood multiple credential stuffing attempts that used LiveJournal passwords, according to recent multiple blogger and social media posts. For example, an impacted user cited by ZDnet, claimed he was asked to fork over 800 bitcoins “or else,” after which he learned his LiveJournal password was leaked.

“This data breach demonstrates the need for organizations to tokenize their data so that sensitive information is rendered unusable for unauthorized access, instead of a puzzle to solve,” commented Trevor Morgan, product manager at comforte AG. Data tokenization is the process of substituting a sensitive data element with a non-sensitive equivalent, or token, that has no meaning in attackers’ hands. The information is therefore useless to a bad actor, who cannot decipher, exploit, or monetize it.

The user bases of LiveJournal and Dreamwidth overlap, and they share the same codebase. Neither website calls any attention to the hack.

Dreamwidth’s privacy policy notes that it uses “industry-standard encryption to safeguard any transmission between your computer and ours. If we learn of a system security breach, we will notify you electronically so you can take appropriate steps to protect yourself.”

In regard to privacy, LiveJournal says it “makes sure to safeguard our users’ private Journal entries but also provide tools that allow them to choose with whom to share the content they want to share, be it with just a small group of friends, or with a larger user-created community.”

The entire LiveJournal database was reportedly seen for as little $35, but also widely available by July 2019 as a free download or through Telegram channels and file-sharing portals. A data dump offers as many as 33.7 million records, although after removing duplicates, the number of unique users falls around 27 milllion.

Morgan said it appeared LiveJournal took the steps to secure the passwords as MD5 hashes. “But that decision proved ultimately futile because the passwords were at risk of brute force reversal and converted to plain text where they are now accessible for free on hacker forum,” he added.

It may sound like a simple solution, but Chris Hauk, consumer privacy champion with Pixel Privacy, cautioned consumers to not use the same passwords across multiple sites, especially banks.

“Once the bad guys get their hands-on information like this, they immediately begin trying other sites and services to attempt to access accounts,” Hauk said.

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