AT&T admits huge data leak affects millions of customers

AT&T confirms major leak of customer data on dark web
AT&T confirms major leak of customer data on dark web Copyright Gene J. Puskar/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews
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In a statement, the US telecoms giant said a data set found on the 'dark web' contained information including social security numbers and passcodes for about 7.6 million current and 65.4 million former account holders.

US telecoms company AT&T has started notifying millions of customers about a major data breach of sensitive information.The Dallas-based company said it was still unknown whether the data originated from AT&T or one of its vendors. It has launched an investigation into the incident.

What information was compromised in the breach?

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While the breaches vary for each customer affected, AT&T says that information involved in this leak included social security numbers and passcodes — which, unlike passwords, are numerical PINS that are typically four digits long. The company said that it was likely that full names, email addresses, mailing address, phone numbers, dates of birth and AT&T account numbers may also been compromised. The data affected is from 2019 or earlier and does not appear to include financial information or call history, it added. 

AT&T said it had already reset the passcodes of those affected and stressed that it had launched a "robust investigation" with internal and external cybersecurity experts.

HAS AT&T SEEN DATA BREACHES LIKE THIS BEFORE?

The US telecoms giant has seen several data breaches in recent years which have varying sizes and impacts. Cyber security expert Troy Hunt  told AP that, while the company said the data in this latest breach surfaced on a hacking forum nearly two weeks ago, it closely resembled a similar breach that surfaced in 2021 but which AT&T never acknowledged. 

"If they assess this and they made the wrong call on it, and we've had a course of years pass without them being able to notify impacted customers," then it's likely the company will soon face class action lawsuits, said Hunt, founder of an Australia-based website that warns people when their personal information has been exposed.

When asked about the similarities, a spokesperson for AT&T declined to comment further.

It is not the first crisis this year for the telecoms giant. An outage in February affected mobile phone services for thousands of US users.

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