The LinkedIn hack: what the experts think

Reaction to the LinkedIn hacking

Carl Leonard, senior security research manager EMEA, Websense

The compromise of a LinkedIn account has three important ramifications. First, the key concern is the bad actors taking advantage of trust. If you are 'linked' to a trusted colleague you are more likely to click on a malicious link sent from them, which may open the door to targeted attacks and confidential data theft.

Second, because many LinkedIn accounts are tied to other social media services, such as Facebook or Twitter, posts with malicious links can also be propagated to a larger audience.

And lastly, many of us are creatures of habit and have the same password for multiple accounts. The consequences of a breached password could be extrapolated across email, social media, banking accounts, and mobile phone data.

Orlando Scott-Cowley, Mimecast

While a data leak of this kind would be very worrying for individuals, a security issue with LinkedIn could also be very potentially damaging for businesses. With many users seeing the site as an extension of their business communications, rather than as a personal tool, employers need to be aware about the possible threat to corporate data that a LinkedIn breach could represent.

Now is a great time to educate your users on the benefits of password complexity and good password policies.

David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab

While LinkedIn says that they are notifying anyone with a compromised password that they need to change their password, we would recommend that anyone with a LinkedIn account takes the precaution of changing their password immediately.

Unfortunately, many people use the same password for multiple online accounts. This practice brings with it the risk that a compromise of one account puts all accounts at risk. We would urge everyone to use a unique, complex password for all online accounts, i.e. one that is at least eight characters and mixes letters, numbers and symbols.

John Yeo, Director at Trustwave SpiderLabs EMEA

It is important for all users of the social network to immediately change their password, not just on LinkedIn, but any other social network where the same password has been used. Perhaps more importantly however, users should also change any passwords to their corporate networks where they have used the same password.

Recent research conducted by Trustwave SpiderLabs found that in over 2.5 million passwords (in use within the workplace) that were analysed, variations on the word "password" made up more than 5% of passwords, and the most common password used by global businesses is "Password1" because it satisfies the default Microsoft Active Directory complexity setting. In approximately 15% of physical security tests, written passwords were found on and around workstations.

And finally… Vicente Silveira, LinkedIn

We want to provide you with an update on this morning's reports of stolen passwords. We can confirm that some of the passwords that were compromised correspond to LinkedIn accounts.

It is worth noting that the affected members who update their passwords and members whose passwords have not been compromised benefit from the enhanced security we just recently put in place, which includes hashing and salting of our current password databases.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our members. We take the security of our members very seriously.

Linkedin hacked. Photograph, Getty Images.

Steve Evans is the deputy web editor of Computer Business Review.

Photo: Getty
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Rising crime and fewer police show the most damaging impacts of austerity

We need to protect those who protect us.

Today’s revelation that police-recorded crime has risen by 10 per cent across England and Wales shows one of the most damaging impacts of austerity. Behind the cold figures are countless stories of personal misery; 723 homicides, 466,018 crimes with violence resulting in injury, and 205,869 domestic burglaries to take just a few examples.

It is crucial that politicians of all parties seek to address this rising level of violence and offer solutions to halt the increase in violent crime. I challenge any Tory to defend the idea that their constituents are best served by a continued squeeze on police budgets, when the number of officers is already at the lowest level for more than 30 years.

This week saw the launch Chris Bryant's Protect The Protectors Private Member’s Bill, which aims to secure greater protections for emergency service workers. It carries on where my attempts in the last parliament left off, and could not come at a more important time. Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well.

As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams in my constituency of Halifax. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. I am always amazed that neighbourhood police officers seem to know the name of every kid in their patch. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in my district has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms .

Overall, West Yorkshire Police have seen a loss of around 1,200 officers. West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart is clear about the result: "To say it’s had no effect on frontline policing is just a nonsense.” Yet for years the Conservatives have argued just this, with the Prime Minister recently telling MPs that crime was at a record low, and ministers frequently arguing that the changing nature of crime means that the number of officers is a poor measure of police effectiveness. These figures today completely debunk that myth.

Constituents are also increasingly coming to me with concerns that crimes are not investigated once they are reported. Where the police simply do not have the resources to follow-up and attend or investigate crimes, communities lose faith and the criminals grow in confidence.

A frequently overlooked part of this discussion is that the demands on police have increased hugely, often in some unexpected ways. A clear example of this is that cuts in our mental health services have resulted in police officers having to deal with mental health issues in the custody suite. While on shift with the police last year, I saw how an average night included a series of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Due to a lack of specialist beds, vulnerable patients were held in a police cell, or even in the back of a police car, for their own safety. We should all be concerned that the police are becoming a catch-all for the state’s failures.

While the politically charged campaign to restore police numbers is ongoing, Protect The Protectors is seeking to build cross-party support for measures that would offer greater protections to officers immediately. In February, the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of its latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

This is partly due to an increase in single crewing, which sees officers sent out on their own into often hostile circumstances. Morale in the police has suffered hugely in recent years and almost every front-line officer will be able to recall a time when they were recently assaulted.

If we want to tackle this undeniable rise in violent crime, then a large part of the solution is protecting those who protect us; strengthening the law to keep them from harm where possible, restoring morale by removing the pay cap, and most importantly, increasing their numbers.

Holly Lynch is the MP for Halifax. The Protect the Protectors bill will get its second reading on the Friday 20th October. 

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