Application security, Breach, Data Security, Malware, Phishing

Personal data of “X-Factor” hopefuls exposed

Individuals have illegally accessed, the website of the Fox Broadcasting Co., to compromise the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals who applied to appear on Simon Cowell's new reality show.

The perpetrators may have obtained the names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and gender information of individuals applying to compete on the The X Factor, a singing competition expected to air this fall in the United States, according to the notification letter sent to victims.

A source close to the matter estimated that approximately 73,000 individuals were affected. Fox could not confirm the number.

A Fox spokeswoman told on Wednesday that the company discovered the intrusion late last week and quickly worked to remedy the issue and notify affected individuals. She did not disclose whether the information was encrypted.

“The good news is that there were no financial information, Social Security numbers, credit card information, or usernames and passwords involved,” the Fox spokeswoman said. “We immediately took action to stop the intrusion and began working with federal authorities to resolve it.”

Fox has warned breach victims to be on high alert for fraudulent emails that appear to have been sent from, or the show, that ask for personal information.

“The X Factor will never ask you to email personal information, such as financial data, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or the username or passwords you use, to access other websites,” the letter states.

Already popular in the U.K, The X Factor features contestants who must be at least 12 years old and who compete for a $5 million recording contract.

“So, the sensitive contact information of hopeful kids as young as 12 could now be in the hands of hackers,” Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “If you think your child has applied, maybe this is a good time to have a chat with them about all of this and warn about possible unwanted emails and phone calls.”

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