6.5 million LinkedIn passwords ‘leaked’

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Members of the social networking site may have had their passwords exposed by hackers

Professional social networking site LinkedIn has reportedly been compromised by hackers that are said to have obtained the passwords of up to 6.5 million of its users.

The details were apparently published in an encrypted file on a Russian web forum, and it is feared that cyber criminals are now going about deciphering the information.

"We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our members," said Vicente Silveira, the LinkedIn director, on the company’s blog. "We take the security of our members very seriously."

While LinkedIn profiles do not contain as extensive a bank of information that may be found on people’s profiles on similar sites such as Facebook, the fear is that members who use the same password for accounts they have elsewhere may be compromised as a result.

In a bid to tackle the potential problems of the leak, users have been urged to change their passwords for other sites so as to prevent the risk of their details being exposed should their information fall into the wrong hands.

Online security expert, Graham Cluley, said: "Although the data which has been released so far does not include associated email addresses, it is reasonable to assume that such information may be in the hands of the criminals."

The leak comes after LinkedIn recently faced controversy after it was revealed that its smartphone app had been sending the information of a number of its members back to the company without users being aware of what was going on.

Given the emphasis on the need for effective data protection methods and secure online document storage systems to protect the sensitive information of the public, LinkedIn will be hoping to reassure their members that they have responded accordingly and that such an event will not happen again.

Indeed, considering the damage that may have been done to the company’s reputation following the leak, the danger is that users lose trust in the service as a consequence of the incident.

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