Reuse of login credentials put more than 20M Alibaba accounts at risk

Pierluigi Paganini February 08, 2016

The reuse of login credentials on Taobao exposed more than 20 million accounts on Alibaba’s websites to attacks.

According to the state media reports, hackers have targeted over 20 million active accounts on Alibaba Group’s Taobao e-commerce website using Alibaba’s own cloud computing service.

The Chinese Giant detected the attack in “the first instance” and responded requesting users to change their passwords.

According to a report published on a website managed by the Ministry of Public Security, hackers behind the attack obtained a database of 99 million usernames and passwords from a number of websites.

The hackers used the Alibaba’s cloud computing platform in the attempt to use the stolen credentials with the Taobao platform.

The hackers discovered that 20.59 million of the 99 million usernames, were shared among different websites, including the e-commerce platform of the Chinese Giant.

20.59 million represents about five percent of annual active buyers on Chinese retail marketplaces.

Alibaba Taobao 2

‘A spokesman from Alibaba confirmed that hackers rented the cloud computing service to launch the attack, but highlighted that there are no security issues affecting the company’s platform.

“Alibaba’s system was never breached,” the spokesman declared.

The hackers started to test the stolen credentials in mid-October and were discovered in November, when experts at Chinese company discovered the unauthorized accesses reported the case to police.

According to the ministry website, Alibaba discovered and blocked the majority of login attempts.

The experts discovered that the compromised accounts were used in various fraudulent activities. The hackers used them to raise Taobao sellers’ rankings placing fake orders, a mechanism known as ‘brushing’.

The incident once again raises the importance of a proper security posture for Internet users, the bad habit of sharing same login credentials among several web services is one of the main causes of security breaches.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Taobao, hacking)

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