While it is not a true industrial automation breach, the LinkedIn compromise does have industry implications as manufacturers use the site to recruit and workers also use it to network.
LinkedIn and online dating service eHarmony warned security experts found scrambled files with passwords for millions of online accounts.
The two companies declined to say how many accounts suffered a breach when they disclosed the attacks in statements issued on Wednesday. They only said they were conducting investigations.
The breaches are the latest in a string of high-profile attacks around the world that have put personal information of millions at risk. The release of information stolen from the intelligence analysis firm Stratfor in December included data belonging to former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Mary Landesman, senior researcher with messaging security firm Cloudmark, said a hacker who has access to somebody’s LinkedIn credentials along with their eHarmony account might be in a good position to commit extortion.
“When somebody has the keys to your business and personal kingdom, that gives them all sorts of powerful information,” she said. “They might be able to use it for years.”
The technology news site Ars Technica reported 8 million encrypted passwords published on underground forums by a hacker known as ‘dwdm’, who was seeking help unscrambling them.
It was not clear whether all 8 million of the passwords belonged to users of LinkedIn and eHarmony, or if the hacker had stolen an even larger number of credentials and just posted some of them on the site.
LinkedIn, which made its stock debut last year, is a social media company that caters to companies seeking employees and people scouting for jobs. It has more than 161 million members worldwide. One of the Mountain View, CA-based company’s main initiatives is to grow internationally; 61 percent of its membership is outside the United States.
Santa Monica-based eHarmony, which has more than 20 million registered online users, said it has reset affected members passwords. The company said those members will receive an email with instructions on how to reset their passwords.