Sep. 26, 2012 at 5:21 PM ET
IEEE, a worldwide organization of engineers, computer scientists and researchers, inadvertently exposed the usernames and passwords of 100,000 of its members, nearly 25 percent of its total membership.
The discovery was made by Radu Dragusin, a teaching assistant in the University of Copenhagen's Department of Computer Science, on Sept. 18.
"Among the almost 100,000 compromised users are Apple, Google, IBM, Oracle and Samsung employees, as well as researchers from NASA, Stanford and many other places," Dragusin writes on his blog.
Dragusin said he did not make the "raw data" available to anyone but IEEE. In a statement to NBC News Wednesday, the organization confirmed the problem, but said it has "conducted a thorough investigation and the issue has been addressed and resolved."
The IEEE is also "in the process of notifying those who may have been affected," a spokesperson for the group said, advising them to change their passwords, and apologizing to members for what happened.
Lest you think that engineers and scientists would probably have lockbox-tight passwords, that doesn't appear to be the case. Dragusin did an analsyis of the exposed passwords, and surprisingly, some of them were the all-too-common and not-advised choices including: "password," "123456," "abcd1234," "12345678" and "1234567890."
In describing what he does, Dragusin says he is working on a specialized search engine to help "clinicians aid in the diagnosis of rare diseases. For the future, I am looking for something exciting to do." It looks like he may have found it.