In what is one of the biggest data breaches in history, millions of Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail accounts have been compromised with usernames and passwords currently being sold in the Russian criminal underworld.
According to Reuters, who spoke to Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security, 272 million account details were stolen. The biggest share of those accounts belongs to Russia's own Mail.ru email service accounts at 57 million, but a large number also belong to Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail users.
Yahoo Mail accounted for 15 percent of the haul with 40 million accounts, Hotmail for 12 percent, with 33 million accounts, and Gmail for 9 percent, with 24 million accounts.
It wasn't just email accounts that were targeted, according to the report, thousands of account credentials belonging to employees of some of the largest US banking, manufacturing and retail companies were also compromised.
Holden stumbled on the discovery after he saw a Russian hacker nicknamed "The Collector" bragging about the haul in an online forum. He was asking for just 50 rubles (~S$1) for the lot, but amazingly, Holden was given the trove for free after agreeing to post favorable comments about the hacker online.
"This information is potent," Holden said. "It is floating around in the underground and this person has shown he's willing to give the data away to people who are nice to him. These credentials can be abused multiple times."