The Sun warns thousands of readers exposed by data breach

Filed Under: Data loss, Privacy, Vulnerability

The SunBritain's best-selling newspaper, The Sun, has warned that thousands of people who participated in competitions on its website might have had their personal information stolen.

Names, postal addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and email addresses are believed to be amongst the stolen information.

According to reports, the data was stolen at the same time as The Sun's website was hacked earlier this month by the LulzSec gang, who posted a bogus story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch.

Fake news story claiming that Rupert Murdoch is dead

Some of the private information about members of the public has been posted online, including applications for the Miss Scotland beauty contest, which includes details of potential contestants' aspirations, vital statistics, hair and eye colour, weight, and height.

Miss Scotland leaked information

Rupert Murdoch's company News International, which owns The Sun and the recently deceased News of the World, says that is directly contacting affected individuals.

Email from The Sun

An obvious danger is that scammers might use the stolen information to target individuals. For instance, a cybercriminal could write to a beauty contest applicant, trick them into believing that it was the newspaper contacting them and attempt to steal money or further information.

With Murdoch's British newspapers already bedeviled with accusations of phone hacking and unethical activities, this is hardly the news The Sun can have wanted to report.

The good news is that financial information (such as credit card details) do not appear to have been compromised, however questions will inevitably be asked to why the sensitive information about readers and competition entrants wasn't safely stored using strong encryption.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.