Britain's best selling newspaper, The Sun, has warned that thousands of readers who participated in website competitions may have had their personal information compromised. Names, postal addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and email addresses are believed to be among the stolen information.
The data is believed to have been stolen at the same time as The Sun's website was hacked last month by the LulzSec hacktivist gang, who posted a bogus story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch.
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' vital statistics, hair and eye colour, weight, and height.
"Cybercriminals will be rubbing their hands in glee at getting hold of data such as names, email addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "The stolen information can be used to target innocent individuals. For instance, a scammer could email a beauty contest applicant, trick them into believing that it was the newspaper contacting them and attempt to steal money or further information."
"Large scale, high profile data breaches continue to hit the headlines and companies really need to take heed about what's going on, and consider the security of the information they store on their systems," Cluley continued. "Questions will inevitably be asked to why the sensitive information about readers and competition entrants wasn't safely stored using strong encryption."