If you’re not familiar with it, LinkedIn is basically a Young Urban Professional’s version of Facebook. It allows users to create personalized accounts, but rather than upload images of themselves getting blackout drunk at cottages, most members use the virtual space to find and connect with current and past colleagues. Members can also share advice with people in their professional field and look for a new job when the pink slips come out to play.
In total, there are about 161 million LinkedIn accounts. Nowhere close to Facebook’s 900 million, but a substantial membership, nonetheless.
No surprise, then, that people are alarmed with this most recent breach of LinkedIn security. While it remains unclear how hackers got past the site’s security defenses, it appears they were able to steal about 6.5 million passwords. Reports indicate those passwords may be making their way online, where hackers will be trying to decipher them.
LinkedIn director Vincente Silveira says that the passwords are encrypted, meaning it will be difficult, though by no means impossible, to decipher the leaked passwords.
Silveira added that LinkedIn is currently investigating the situation. In the meantime, he’s apologizing “for the inconvenience this has caused our members.”
If you’re a LinkedIn member whose password was stolen, you can expect to receive an email from the social network soon. Silveira says customer support representatives will explain that users affected by the attack will need to reset their security passwords immediately before they can access the site.
(Beyond that, it’s also a good idea for anyone affected by the breach to change any other passwords that might resemble the one used for LinkedIn.)
Finally, Silveira insisted that emails associated with the breach will not include links to the site. Given that hackers may try to capitalize on the situation with malicious emails, it’s important LinkedIn users not click on any links in emails related to the password leak.