Skip to main content

Hacker thieves steal a million Social Security Numbers

data brokers hacked identity thieves social security number hack
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now might be a good time to check your credit history for anything fishy. A new investigative report from security researcher Brian Krebs shows that a group of identity thieves have successfully infiltrated the networks of three major data brokers, giving them access to Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, and other personal details that could put all our financials at risk.

Through the use of a botnet – a system of infected computers used to do any number of bad things on the Internet – the ID thieves gained access to the networks of LexisNexis, one of the largest data brokers in the world; Dun & Bradstreet, a data broker that specializes in business data for determining credit worthiness; and Kroll Background America, a background, drug, and health screening company.

LexisNexis and Dan & Bradstreet have both confirmed the attacks on their databases with Krebs. Kroll Background America’s parent company, Allegrity, neither confirmed nor denied an attack, and reiterated its commitment to “protecting the data and privacy of our customers.” The FBI confirmed with Krebs that it is investigating the attack.

The people (or person) behind a website called, or just SSNDOB, is the source of the attack, according to Krebs. He discovered SSNDOB marketing itself on “underground cybercrime forums” as a source for people who want to purchase “SSNs, birthdays, and other personal data on any U.S. resident.” Customers could pay as little as $0.50 for some records, while full background checks ran between $5 and $15.

Krebs found that SSNDOB provided a hacktivist group called UGNazi with a slew of personal data on a number of celebrities and public figures, including Jay-Z, Beyonce, First Lady Michelle Obama, and former FBI Director Robert Muller. The names, SSNs, birthdays, and addresses of these high-profile people were then posted on a website called

SSNDOB itself was compromised by multiple attacks earlier this year, giving Krebs researchers access to its entire database. The website’s records show that “1,300 customers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdays, drivers license records, and obtaining unauthorized credit and background reports on more than four million Americans,” according to Krebs. The records include 1.02 million SSNs and approximately 3 million date of birth records.

In addition to SSNs and dates of birth, SSNDOB’s access to the data broker’s networks likely provided a wealth of additional personal information that would allow an identity thief to take out fraudulent loans in your name. This is because financial institutions often ask specific personal questions about a person’s financial history, such as the precise amount of a recent mortgage payment. Armed with all the answers to these types of questions, an ID thief would easily bypass the security checks meant to keep him or her out – perhaps even more easily than the victim, because people often forget or mistake certain details about their financial histories.

As it stands now, the companies that fell victim to the SSNDOB botnet attack are investigating the issue. It is not currently known precisely how many people have been affected by the breach. Krebs says that he will release two subsequent reports soon, which may provide more details.

So stay tuned – and, seriously, check out your credit report with a fine-toothed comb.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
JPEG vs. PNG: When and why to use one format over the other
A person using Adobe Lightroom CC on an iMac.

In digital imaging, two image formats prevail above all else: JPEG (or JPG) and PNG.

At first glance, a single image shown in both formats might seem identical, but if you look closely enough and dig into the data, there is quite a difference between them. One format isn't always better than the other, as each is designed to be used in specific circumstances based on your needs for image quality, file size, and more. Here's what you need to know about both formats to make the most of their strengths and weaknesses.
What is the JPEG format?
Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group -- the team that developed the format -- JPEG has become the standard compressed format in digital photography and online image sharing due to its careful balance of file size and image quality.

Read more
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial? Get a month of free delivery
Walmart logo.

Take a moment and think about how often you shop at your local Walmart. Is it weekly? Daily? If either of those is the case, it might be time to upgrade your shopping experience. The Walmart Plus free trial is your chance to check out what the retail giant has to offer. Walmart Plus is basically Amazon Prime for Walmart. You get free shipping on most orders, early access to deals and new product drops (like PS5 restocks), the best grocery delivery, and more. If Walmart is your go-to option for the best smart home devices or the best tech products in general, you should get a membership. If you want to test out the service, you can sign up for a free trial. We have all the information you need right here.
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial?
There is a Walmart Plus free trial available, and it’s one of the best free trials we’ve seen in terms of how many great features and conveniences you’re able to access. This is really a reflection of how great the Walmart Plus service is, as the Walmart Plus free trial is essentially a 30-day experience of what it would be like to be a paid Walmart Plus subscriber. A Walmart Plus membership can help you save over $1,300 per year, so taking advantage of the 30-day free trial is a great way to get in there and see what those savings will look like. And if grocery delivery is what you're really after, an alternative you might consider is the Instacart free trial -- they have more than one program to try!

As part of a Walmart Plus free trial, you’ll get free shipping with no minimum order, so even small orders will qualify for free shipping. You’ll get fresh groceries and more with no delivery fees, and all at the same low in-store prices Walmart shoppers are used to. Walmart Plus members, and Walmart Plus free trial members, get exclusive access to special promotions and events, as well as a savings of up to 10 cents per gallon on fuel. A new addition to the perks of being a Walmart Plus member is free access to Paramount Plus, a top-notch streaming service with more than 40,000 TV episodes and movies. All of this is accessible for 30 days through a Walmart Plus free trial, and once those 30 days are up, Walmart Plus is just $12.95 per month or $98 annually.

Read more
The 13 best early Black Friday deals you can shop this weekend
Digital Trends Best Black Friday Deals

Even though Black Friday is still a couple of weeks away, we're already starting to see a lot of great deals on several different types of products. So, if you can't wait for the upcoming Black Friday and need to grab a few things now, we've collected some of our favorite deals across products and budget ranges to make your life a little bit easier. Below, you'll find deals on cordless vacuums, laptops, TVs, headphones, and phones, so it's a great collection of stuff that we think you'll find useful and want to grab. That said, if you can't find what you want, be sure to check our main Black Friday deals page for even more great offers.
Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum -- $98, was $150

While budget cordless vacuum cleaners can sometimes not be that great, we found the Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum to be surprisingly good for its price point. At just 2.8 pounds of weight, it's light enough that you won't feel like you're doing a workout every time you use it, and it is great for those who might have issues with arm weakness. Just because it's light doesn't mean it's not powerful, though, with two motors providing 24,000 pascals of suction, which is quite a lot at this price. It also has a HEPA filter to keep the air you breathe clean while vacuuming, which is impressive, but sadly, it does have a big downside in that it only lasts for about 50 minutes of vacuuming. That's not necessarily a dealbreaker, and you can buy a backup battery, but it's an important thing to note.

Read more