France’s Orange hit by massive hacking

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French telecommunications company Orange announced this week that hackers have stolen personal data from 1.3 million customers, in the second major security breach of its kind in a matter of months.

In the latest incident, which was detected on April 18, the hackers acquired names, email addresses, mobile and fixed line numbers, names of mobile and Internet operators and the dates of birth of current and potential customers.

“The data recovered could be used to contact those concerned by email, SMS or by phone, particularly for phishing purposes,” the group warned in a statement issued this week.

A spokesman for the phone operator told the AFP news agency on Tuesday the attack affected 1.3 million people.

“Phishing” attacks involve fake emails purporting to be by a trustworthy entity sent to people to deceive them into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, user names or credit card details.

In February, Orange reported a separate security breach, in which the personal data of 800,000 of its Internet clients had been stolen.

A spokesman said the group had delayed announcing the latest breach to allow for the scale of the data theft to be assessed and to ensure that the security gaps which allowed it had been closed.

Previous attacks

Cyber criminals have targeted companies around the world in pursuit of personal details which could help them secure access to bank and other accounts.

In September, Vodafone Germany said a hacker had stolen the personal data of two million customers.

In 2006, T-Mobile also fell victim to hackers who stole the phone numbers and personal details of 17 million customers.

And Japan’s Sony was hit in early 2011 when an attack on its Playstation Network compromised the security of the personal data of some 77 million users.

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