Hackers steal 1 billion email addresses from US marketing cos
Computer hackers stole 1 billion email addresses from US marketing companies in what federal authorities have called one of the largest reported data breaches in US history. Three people have been indicted on federal charges after they allegedly netted $2 million in commissions from millions of spam emails that routed recipients to websites selling software and other products. That means the defendants would have averaged just a fraction of a penny for each of the stolen email addresses.
Still, the case is significant due to the scale of information stolen. John Horn, the acting US attorney in Atlanta, said the hackers targeted marketing companies that send bulk emails to customers of their commercial clients. They gained access to the firms’ computer systems by sending emails with hidden malware to the marketing companies’ employees.
The hackers not only stole hundreds of millions of email addresses, Horn said, but they also succeeded in using the marketing firms’ own systems to send the hackers’ spam messages. One of the defendants, 25-year-old Vietnamese citizen Giang Hoang Vu, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud before a federal judge last month. He has not been sentenced.
A second Vietnamese citizen, 28-year-old Viet Quoc Nguyen, has been indicted on 29 counts including charges of wire fraud and computer fraud. David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, of Montreal, Canada, is charged with taking part in a money-laundering conspiracy. Officials said Da Silva was arrested in Florida last month. Nguyen remains a fugitive.