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Online Hacking

TripAdvisor gets hacked, partial email list stolen

Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief  Mar 25, 2011

The tech guys at online travel community TripAdvisor must be scrambling to figure out what happened last weekend when “an unauthorized third party had stolen part of TripAdvisor's member email list.” So much so that it has prompted Steve Kaufer, co-founder and CEO of the top travel website to issue a statement about the issue.

“We've confirmed the source of the vulnerability and shut it down. We're taking this incident very seriously and are actively pursuing the matter with law enforcement,” said Kaufer in a statement released Thursday, March 24, 2011.

So, what exactly happened? According to TripAdvisor, they “have discovered that an unauthorized third party has recently stolen part of TripAdvisor's member email list. “We're taking this incident very seriously. We've identified the vulnerability, shut it down and are vigorously pursuing the matter with law enforcement. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.”

According to Kaufer, he anticipates that the incident will “in many cases” won’t impact members of the online travel community. “Only a portion of all member email addresses were taken, and all member passwords remain secure,” he said. “You may receive some unsolicited emails (spam) as a result of this incident.”

The TripAdvisor CEO added that he decided to write to members of Trip Advisor because “we think it's the right thing to do.” He said: “As a TripAdvisor member, I would want to know. Unfortunately, this sort of data theft is becoming more common across many industries, and we take it extremely seriously.”

Kaufer added: “I'd also like to reassure you that TripAdvisor does not collect members' credit card or financial information, and we never sell or rent our member list.”

As the matter is still being investigated, Trip Advisor admitted that it has “identified the vulnerability, shut it down and are vigorously pursuing the matter with law enforcement.”

As a consequence of this breach, TripAdvisor is saying it is implementing additional security precautions to help prevent another incident in the future.
Travel websites are particularly a prime target for hackers. eTurboNews (eTN) has had its share of attacks since its inception. “Some have of breaches have caused us to change servers a few times,” said eTN publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz. “It can be as simple as some malicious person planting a fake email in our subscription form but the repercussions could be irreparable.”

This is the reason why Steinmetz claims that eTN has set up a “very sophisticated system” that allows eTN to quickly identify attacks and respond accordingly.

Steinmetz added: “We agree with TripAdvisor that the common red flags for identifying spam or junk emails are unknown sender, unexpected or unsolicited, misspellings or grammatical errors, alarmist messages, altered or misspelled web address, requests for money or rescue, and bogus or suspicious web addresses.”

TripAdvisor gets hacked, partial email list stolen
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