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EBay hit by cyberattack, warns users to change passwords

| Thursday, May 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

EBay Inc., operator of the online auction site, asked users to change their passwords, because a cyber-attack exposed a database with login information and data such as birthdays and phone numbers.

There's no evidence of unauthorized activity resulting from the breach, eBay said in a statement on Wednesday. While credit-card numbers are stored separately and encrypted, it's still best to change passwords, the company said.

In recent months, Target Corp. and Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. reported high-profile consumer-data breaches, and a web-security bug known as Heartbleed was made public. In this case, hackers reached eBay's corporate network by getting access to a small number of employee passwords, prompting the company to disclose the attack.

“Cybersecurity and cyber-attacks have really become as much a part of day-to-day life as folks using the Internet and mobile offerings,” said Scott Kessler, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ in New York. “This seems like mostly a precaution, but a precaution that companies find themselves increasingly looking to communicate about.”

EBay, based in San Jose, Calif., is asking users to change their passwords on its service and on any other site where that password is used. Activity on eBay's website has been normal since the breach was revealed on Wednesday, showing no impact from the announcement, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Kari Ramirez, a spokeswoman for eBay, declined to comment.

EBay said it's working with police and security experts to investigate the breach, which occurred between late February and early March. The database that was compromised contained encrypted passwords and personal information on eBay users, though not financial data nor any personal or financial information about customers of its PayPal payment unit, the company said.

“PayPal data is stored separately on a secure network, and all PayPal financial information is encrypted,” eBay said.

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