Hacked dating website Topface buys back stolen personal data from hacker

A Russian dating website that had 20 million email addresses stolen last week, has paid the hackers not to sell the information, TechWeek Europe reports.

Topface, a dating website with an estimated 92 million users, had its data breached last week as reported by We Live Security here. The company’s Chief Executive Dmitry Filatov explained how they tracked down the hacker based on adverts looking to sell the data, and paid him for discovered a security weakness, saying in an email to Reuters, “We have paid him an award for finding a vulnerability and agreed on further cooperation in the field of data security.”

“As we made an agreement with him we do not see any reason for him to break it,” he added. He declined to disclose the size of the reward.

David Lewis, writing a security column in Forbes, expressed concern that this sets a “horrible precedent.” Lewis wrote, “By paying out to this person what guarantees does that provide that another will not try the same thing? In fact, this will have quite the opposite effect. This will serve as encouragement for others to try similar things with other targets.”

The motives of the attack were not entirely clear. When interviewed by International Business Times last week, the hacker – who goes by the moniker Mastermind – reportedly explained that his intent was not to profit from a data sale, but to highlight the ‘dirty business’ of fake accounts on dating sites. “I thought about [selling the database] but I believe there are more important things in our world that we should pay attention to first,” he explained.

Author , ESET

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