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.

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John McDonnell praises New Labour as he enters conciliatory mode

The shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present by crediting the 1997 government. 

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, John McDonnell has been on a mission to reinvent himself as a kinder, gentler politician. He hasn’t always succeeded. In July, the shadow chancellor declared of rebel MPs: “As plotters they were fucking useless”.

But in his Labour conference speech, Corbyn’s closest ally was firmly in conciliatory mode. McDonnell thanked Owen Smith for his part in defeating the Personal Independence Payment cuts. He praised Caroline Flint, with whom he has clashed, for her amendment to the financial bill on corporate tax transparency. Jonathan Reynolds, who will soon return to the frontbench, was credited for the “patriots pay their taxes” campaign (the latter two not mentioned in the original text).

McDonnell’s ecunmenicism didn’t end here. The 1997 Labour government, against which he and Corbyn so often defined themselves, was praised for its introduction of the minimum wage (though McDonnell couldn’t quite bring himself to mention Tony Blair). Promising a “real Living Wage” of around £10 per hour, the shadow chancellor sought to build a bridge between the past and the present. Though he couldn’t resist adding some red water as he closed: “In this party you no longer have to whisper it, it's called socialism. Solidarity!”

As a rebuke to those who accuse him of seeking power in the party, not the country, McDonnell spoke relentlessly of what the next Labour “government” would do. He promised a £250bn National Investment Bank, a “Right to Own” for employees, the repeal of the Trade Union Act and declared himself “interested” in the potential of a Universal Basic Income. It was a decidedly wonkish speech, free of the attack lines and jokes that others serve up.

One of the more striking passages was on McDonnell’s personal story (a recurring feature of Labour speeches since Sadiq Khan’s mayoral victory). “I was born in the city [Liverpool], not far from here,” he recalled. “My dad was a Liverpool docker and my mum was a cleaner who then served behind the counter at British Homes Stores for 30 years. I was part of the 1960's generation.  We lived in what sociological studies have described as some of the worst housing conditions that exist within this country. We just called it home.”

In his peroration, he declared: “In the birthplace of John Lennon, it falls to us to inspire people to imagine.” Most Labour MPs believe that a government led by Corbyn and McDonnell will remain just that: imaginary. “You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one,” the shadow chancellor could have countered. With his praise for New Labour, he began the work of forging his party’s own brotherhood of man.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.