If you've encountered online scams before, you know that any email that addresses you by name, continues into a form letter and gives you a link to change your password stinks to high heaven.
Imagine, then, how surprised Name.com customers must have felt to discover that such an email from the domain-name registrar and Web-hosting provider was not only real, but carried with it news of credit card theft.
A number of users took to Internet forums to describe the suspicious email they received: "Name.com recently discovered a security breach where customer account information including usernames, e-mail addresses, and encrypted passwords and encrypted credit card account information may have been accessed by unauthorized individuals."
The administrators believe that the hackers had no real interest in most customers' information, targeting only one high-profile client by raking in as much data as they could and sorting through it later. At present, there is no evidence that anyone's data — financial or website-related — has been used maliciously, even the data of the targeted commercial account.
Even if the hackers wanted to use individuals' credit cards, they might find the process too troublesome to bother. Name.com employs "strong encryption" on all stored credit card numbers, and stores "private keys" necessary for charging the cards physically in a different location. That said, companies have been known to claim "strong" encryption no matter how weak the actual protection might be, so take its claim with a grain of salt.
While many users were pleased to receive Name.com's email informing them that their financial information was safe, others objected to the suspicious "reset your password" link. Email scams frequently inform customers that their information has been hacked, imploring them to click on a password reset link that sends them directly to a malware-infected page.
It took a Facebook post from the official Name.com support team to clear things up. "The email you received about the password change is from us and is valid," it said. The password reset link is both "direct and unique," and consequently, perfectly safe. In fact, now that hackers have your old Name.com password, resetting it is mandatory. [See also: 5 Steps to Better Credit-Card Security ]
Name.com users who are concerned about future attacks should take two immediate steps. First, go to Name.com, log in and change your password.
Next, sign up for Name.com's newly introduced two-step authentication. This service will send a second verification code to a mobile device each time you want to log in: a very convenient way to thwart remote hackers.
Of course, actual malicious hackers could take advantage of this event to send fraudulent Name.com emails with fake links, so exercise common sense. Check for suspicious email addresses, or reset your password directly from the Name.com site rather than the email link.
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