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Security Alert: User Info Breach

By Jason Yan, Disqus

October 10, 2017

Yesterday, on October 5th, we were alerted to a security breach that impacted a database from 2012. While we are still investigating the incident, we believe that it is best to share what we know now. We know that a snapshot of our user database from 2012, including information dating back to 2007, was exposed. The snapshot includes email addresses, Disqus user names, sign-up dates, and last login dates in plain text for 17.5mm users. Additionally, passwords (hashed using SHA1 with a salt; not in plain text) for about one-third of users are included.

We sincerely apologize to all of our users who were affected by this breach. Our intention is to be as transparent as possible about what happened, when we found out, what the potential consequences may be, and what we are doing about it.

Timeline Of Events:

  • Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 4:18 PM PDT, we were contacted by an independent security researcher, who informed us that the Disqus data may be exposed.
  • Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 4:56PM PDT we obtained the exposed data and immediately began to analyze the data and verify its validity.
  • Friday, October 6, 2017, we started contacting users and resetting the passwords of all the users that had passwords included in the breach.
  • Friday, October 6, 2017, before 4:00PM PDT, we published this public disclosure of the incident.

Potential Impact For Users:

  • Right now there isnt any evidence of unauthorized logins occurring in relation to this. No plain text passwords were exposed, but it is possible for this data to be decrypted (even if unlikely). As a security precaution, we have reset the passwords for all affected users. We recommend that all users change passwords on other services if they are shared.
  • Email addresses are in plain text here, so its possible that affected users may receive spam or unwanted emails.
  • At this time, we do not believe that this data is widely distributed or readily available. We can also confirm that the most recent data that was exposed is from July, 2012.

What We Are Doing to Address This:

As a precautionary measure, we are forcing the reset of passwords for all affected users. We are contacting all of the users whose information was included to inform them of the situation.

Weve taken action to protect the accounts that were included in the data snapshot. Right now, we dont believe there is any threat to a user accounts. Since 2012, as part of normal security enhancements, weve made significant upgrades to our database and encryption in order to prevent breaches and increase password security. Specifically, at the end of 2012 we changed our password hashing algorithm from SHA1 to bcrypt.

Our team is still actively investigating this issue, but we wanted to share all relevant information as soon as possible. If more information surfaces we will update this post and share any updates directly to users. Again, were sorry about this. Your trust in Disqus is important to us and were working hard to maintain that.

Thank you to Troy Hunt for initially alerting us of this.

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