Beautiful People dating site data sold online

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter, BBC News


Data stolen from a dating website aimed at "beautiful people only" has been traded online.

The details of more than a million members including their weight, height, job, and phone numbers were discovered unencrypted online in December 2015.

They have now been sold on the black market, said security expert Troy Hunt.

The firm said the data belonged to members who joined before July 2015 and that no passwords or financial information were included.

Security researcher Chris Vickery, who originally discovered it, told the BBC the firm acted quickly after he notified them - but by then, data had already been sold on.

"They published it openly to the world with no protection whatsoever," he said.

Beautiful People originally claimed the content was from a test server but Mr Vickery said the data itself was still genuine.

"Whether or not it's in the test database makes no difference if it's real data," he added.

It also transpired that a second researcher had identified the same weakness on the same day.

"The breach involves data that was provided by members prior to mid-July 2015. No more recent user data or any data relating to users who joined from mid-July 2015 onward is affected," Beautiful People said in a statement.

"As far as we were aware, at that time [in December 2015], only the two security researchers who informed us of the breach had access to this data."

image copyrightBeautiful People
image captionPeople wishing to join the website are first rated by existing members

Public information

Now the compromised data appears to have been sold on the black market, security expert Troy Hunt told Forbes.

"Now it's public, cybercriminals have the opportunity to use this information to steal personal identities or more," said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

"Unfortunately, once a breach of this nature has been made, there is not much that can be done."

Cybercriminals use the genuine identities to synthesise new ones, and they tend to act within a month of receiving stolen data, said John Lord, managing director at identity data intelligence firm GBG.

"Organisations need to take action and use more data, analytical insights and triangulation of multiple-identity proofing techniques to minimise the potential effects of identity theft for both the user and the businesses serving them," he said.

Beauty secrets

People hoping to join the Beautiful People website submit photographs which are then rated by existing members of the opposite sex for 48 hours.

If they get enough positive votes, they are then granted membership.

The firm claims more than 700 marriages have taken place between people who met on its website.

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