Quora has just announced that it discovered a data breach on Friday, November 30th. Taking a move from the playbook of, apparently, nobody else, Quora did not wait weeks or months or even days to announce the breach – going from discovery to notifying their users in no more than 72 hours. Thank you for that, Quora!
For those not familiar with Quora (in which case this news is probably of less interest to you, for which you can be thankful) Quora is a question and answer (Q&A) site where anybody can post a question, and anybody in the Quora community can answer it.
According to the emailed statement, users may have had the following compromised in the breach: name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization data, public actions and content including drafts (i.e. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, and upvotes), data imported from linked networks such as contacts, demographic information, interests, and access tokens (which Quora has now invalidated), and non-public content such as direct messages and suggested edits.
Here’s the full statement, emailed to Quora members today:
Full Statement from Quora Regarding Data Breach
We are writing to let you know that we recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to our systems by a malicious third party. We are very sorry for any concern or inconvenience this may cause. We are working rapidly to investigate the situation further and take the appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in the future.
On Friday we discovered that some user data was compromised by a third party who gained unauthorized access to our systems. We’re still investigating the precise causes and in addition to the work being conducted by our internal security teams, we have retained a leading digital forensics and security firm to assist us. We have also notified law enforcement officials.
While the investigation is still ongoing, we have already taken steps to contain the incident, and our efforts to protect our users and prevent this type of incident from happening in the future are our top priority as a company.
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What information was involved
The following information of yours may have been compromised:
- Account and user information, e.g. name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization data
- Public actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotes
- Data imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)
- Non-public content, e.g. direct messages, suggested edits
Questions and answers that were written anonymously are not affected by this breach as we do not store the identities of people who post anonymous content.
What we are doing
While our investigation continues, we’re taking additional steps to improve our security:
We’re in the process of notifying users whose data has been compromised.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are logging out all Quora users who may have been affected, and, if they use a password as their authentication method, we are invalidating their passwords.
We believe we’ve identified the root cause and taken steps to address the issue, although our investigation is ongoing and we’ll continue to make security improvements.
We will continue to work both internally and with our outside experts to gain a full understanding of what happened and take any further action as needed.
What you can do
We’ve included more detailed information about more specific questions you may have in our help center, which you can find here.
While the passwords were encrypted (hashed with a salt that varies for each user), it is generally a best practice not to reuse the same password across multiple services, and we recommend that people change their passwords if they are doing so.
It is our responsibility to make sure things like this don’t happen, and we failed to meet that responsibility. We recognize that in order to maintain user trust, we need to work very hard to make sure this does not happen again. There’s little hope of sharing and growing the world’s knowledge if those doing so cannot feel safe and secure, and cannot trust that their information will remain private. We are continuing to work very hard to remedy the situation, and we hope over time to prove that we are worthy of your trust.
The Quora Team
Quora has already put up the Quora Security Update – FAQ, which we have seen they are updating regularly.
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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