Monster.com job database comes under attack by phishers

LOSSES & LAWSUITS

Details of the breach were discovered only after computer security firm Symantec reported on its website that it had found a new kind of trojan, called Infostealer.Monstres, which had gathered a hoard of 1.6 million personal records stolen from Monster.com and had uploaded them to a remote server on a computer in Ukraine. The trojan only attacked the "Monster for Employers" site, the section used by recruiters and human resources personnel to search for potential candidates, which was probably accessed using the stolen credentials of a Monster.com employee.

On discovery of the attack, Symantec informed Monster.com, which disabled the affected accounts and posted a warning on its online security centre that clients were being sent fraudulent job offers in an attempt to gain access to their financial information. Monster.com has not reported the crime to police and no arrests have been made.

The threat is not yet over for Monster.com as the personal data stored in the database - from potentially several hundred thousand, mainly US-based, people - could also be used to steal personal identities and perpetrate financial fraud. The personal details and the Monster.com name made the phishing scam appeared more genuine than those most online consumers have become used to. The victims were also expecting to be contacted by strangers with job offers as a result of signing up with the recruitment site.

In a statement, the data vaulting and security specialist Cyber-Ark said the data leakage could have been avoided if the site had maintained its database in a secure and encrypted format. Calum Macleod, European director for Cyber-Ark, said: "Modern encryption and digital vaulting techniques mean personal information uploaded to a website like Monster.com need only be decrypted when the database is interrogated. Using this approach means the data can be held securely on the web server and, even if hackers succeeded in downloading the files, the fact that they were encrypted would render the data unreadable - and therefore unusable."

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