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Report: Hundreds of Millions of Email Accounts Hacked

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Stolen email accounts allegedly being traded in Russia's criminal underworld

A cyber security firm recently discovered that more than 270 million email accounts had been compromised in what could be one of the largest and far-reaching cyber attacks of all time.

Security experts uncovered the hacking of approximately 272.3 million email accounts across a number of platforms. Hackers stole user names and passwords for email accounts and were then reportedly shopping the stolen accounts in Russia's criminal underworld. Most of the hacked emails were Mail.ru accounts -- Mail.ru is the most popular email service in Russia -- but Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft email accounts were also among the tens of millions of hacked accounts.

Information security firm Hold Security first reported details of the massive data breach, and global news agency Reuters later expanded on the report.

Huge cache of stolen accounts

Cyber intelligence analysts at Holden Security made the discovery after finding a thread in an online forum where a young Russian hacker bragged about owning more than 1 billion stolen records.

After a little digging, Holden analysts discovered that the hacker held stolen credentials for than 50 million Mail.ru accounts and also held stolen usernames and passwords for Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo, and some German and Chinese email providers, as well.

Less than $1

The bizarre story turned even more mysterious once Holden analysts realized that the hacker was asking for just 50 rubles, which is less than $1, for the entire database of hundreds of millions of stolen accounts.

But the cyber security firm didn't even have to pay the dollar to gain access to the database of hacked accounts, as the hacker reportedly gave up the entire collection after Hold researchers made a deal to post favorable comments about the hacker in forums.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.