Time Warner Cable is urging customers to change their email passwords after the company was notified of a major data breach that could leave subscribers vulnerable to identity theft.
According to Patch.com, up to 320,000 Time Warner Cable customers across the country may have had their passwords stolen by hackers who breached the company’s email list.
After being alerted to the attack by the FBI, the company released a statement placing the blame on a third-party vendor that stores its customer information.
“Our understanding is that the compromise had nothing to do with TWC’s systems or processes,” the statement read. “TWC has found no evidence of a breach in its systems that operate and secure email accounts for our customers.”
The Portland Press Herald is reporting that Time Warner Cable has over 16 million customers in 29 states. The breach was limited to residential customers, though any subscriber with an “rr.com” email address is at risk of having their identity stolen.
While current employees accounted for 35% of all data breaches in 2014, it seems as if Time Warner Cable was targeted by outside hackers. Joshua Silver, a cyber security specialist from Maine, notes that criminals have many ways to abuse a hacked email address.
“There’s actually a lot more value in email accounts than you might think,” Silver said. “Think of all the personal information that’s in your emails.”
Hackers can also utilize the email contacts of a user by sending them “phishing” messages. These messages carry dangerous malware that people generally open without pause, because they appear to come from a trusted source.
For the millions of Time Warner Cable customers who may be vulnerable to identity theft, experts are suggesting that they change their email passwords as soon as possible.
However, since many people use the same password for multiple accounts and websites, customers are being urged to change all of their internet passwords.
“Change the password not only for that account, but for all other accounts that have the same password,” said John Forker, chief information security officer at the University of Maine.
Some hacking experts, such as Jane Margesson, spokeswoman for AARP Maine, go a step further when giving suggestions to those who fear identity theft.
“We strongly recommend that people change their passwords every six weeks,” Margesson said. She added that customers can contact the three major credit reporting agencies to freeze their credit reports if they believe they have been hacked.
Time Warner customers with questions or concerns regarding the breach can call the company’s Care Team hotline or visit its website for more information.
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