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May/21/2014 - 09:17:24 pm

EBay Reports Attack on Its Computer Network

SAN FRANCISCO — Hackers infiltrated the computer network of eBay, the online marketplace, potentially gaining access to personal data for 145 million of its customers, the company said Wednesday.

The security breach allowed hackers to break into a database containing names, email addresses, birth dates, encrypted passwords, physical addresses and phone numbers.

There was no indication that the attackers obtained credit card data or other financial information, said an eBay spokeswoman, Amanda Miller, and the company had not detected an unusual level of fraud activity.

EBay discovered that hackers first breached the company in late February, according to Ms. Miller, who would not say whether the company discovered the breach on its own or was alerted to it by law enforcement agencies.

Hackers managed to steal credentials for several of its employees, and used those user names and passwords to gain access to eBay’s network and the database of information for all its customers.

Ms. Miller said that eBay stored its financial data separately and that accounts at PayPal, which is owned by eBay, were not affected by the breach. Still, she advised users with the same password for eBay and PayPal to change their passwords immediately.

A forensics investigation discovered the breach first occurred in late February, according to Ms. Miller, but the company did not become aware of the breach until early May, and it is now working with a computer forensics firm and law enforcement agencies to determine its full scope.

Though state notification laws differ, most states require that companies notify customers of a breach if their names are compromised in combination with other information like a credit card, Social Security number or driver’s license number. But states make exceptions for encrypted information. As long as companies scramble consumer information with basic encryption, the law does not require companies to tell customers about a breach.

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