John G. Mabanglo
Adobe, which makes and sells popular software such as Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat, says a data breach disclosed earlier this month was more extensive than initially detailed.
BOSTON __ Adobe Systems Inc. said on Tuesday that the scope of a cyber-security breach disclosed nearly a month ago was far bigger than initially reported, with attackers obtaining data on more than 38 million customer accounts.
The software maker also said that hackers had stolen part of the source code to Photoshop editing software that is widely used by professional photographers.
The company disclosed the breach on Oct. 3, saying attackers took credit card information and other data from nearly 3 million customers' accounts.
Adobe also said that the hackers accessed an undisclosed number of Adobe IDs and encrypted passwords that were stored in a separate database. On Tuesday, it revealed that about 38 million records from that database were stolen.
On Oct. 3, the company also reported that the attackers stole source code to three other products: Acrobat, ColdFusion and ColdFusion Builder.
Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell said the software maker believes the attackers also obtained access to "many invalid Adobe IDs, inactive Adobe IDs, Adobe IDs with invalid encrypted passwords and test account data."
She said the company is still investigating to determine how much invalid account information was breached and is in the process of notifying affected users.
'Treasure trove' of information
Even though the company believes the stolen passwords were encrypted, the attackers may have been able to access them in plain text by one of several methods, including breaking the algorithm that Adobe used to scramble them, said Marcus Carey, a security researcher and expert on cyber attacks, who formerly worked as an investigator with the National Security Agency.
They could likely use those passwords to break into other accounts because many people use the same passwords for multiple accounts, he said.
"This is a treasure trove for future attacks," Carey said.
Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell said that the company was not aware of any unauthorized activity on Adobe accounts as a result of the attack.
Yet Edell said she could not say whether stolen credit cards or passwords had been used to launch follow-on attacks against Adobe customers or conduct other types of cyber crimes.
"Our investigation is still ongoing," she said. "We anticipate the full investigation will take some time to complete."
First published October 29 2013, 4:11 PM