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June 08, 2012

eHarmony: The Latest Victim in Hacking String

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

Immediately following LinkedIn’s (News - Alert) security breech announced earlier this week, another announcement of a high-profile attack was recently committed by the same culprits.

An attack on eHarmony saw the majority of 1.5 million stolen passwords have already been cracked. The hacker has been identified as a user of, under the name “dwdm.”

Although the criminals involved in these hackings are nowhere near the caliber of those involved in the cyber terrorism in the Middle East, the programmers have succeeded in some of today's most consequential hacking jobs. Users of LinkedIn and eHarmony are advised to change their passwords immediately.

Neither company is willing to announce how many accounts have been compromised, but security firms estimate the number at around 8 million. Curiously, Reuters (News - Alert) includes the compromised accounts of Stratfor’s user database – where former Vice President Dan Quayle is mentioned as a victim – in what the press insinuates is a string operation. 

Mary Landesman of Cloudmark (News - Alert) told Reuters that the hackers identified in the LinkedIn and eHarmony scandal, "dwdm" and co-conspirators, are in a position to commit extortion with the information they have obtained.

eHarmony, based in Santa Monica, Cali., has nearly 20 million users as an online dating service with the largest proportion of women to men. LinkedIn is based in Mountain View, Cali., and has 161 million registered users, the majority of whom are men.

A security technique experts have faulted LinkedIn for not incorporating into their current systems is called “salting,” which consists of adding additional codes before encrypting or obscuring individual passwords, potentially making hacking into the millions of accounts significantly more difficult.

Security firms, often summoned for their expertise on similar matters, are in a growing market that is predicted to become quite lucrative. Analysts predict that by 2016, the data center and virtual security market will grow into a $4.4 billion prospect.

Companies such as McAfee, HP and Fortinet (News - Alert) are named as following Cisco, the company dominating a third of the market, as strong vendors of data security services, and the market’s future substantial growth has room for many more vendors offering related services.

Edited by Braden Becker
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