Question and answer forum Quora has announced that hackers may have pilfered 100 million users’ names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords.
Data imported from other social networks could have been compromised as well. The hackers may also have records of every public and private action you’ve taken on Quora, including comments, upvotes and downvotes, questions, and direct messages.
Managing Director, Adam D’Angelo has said that a leading digital forensics and security firm was continuing its investigation into the hack. The company has also notified law enforcement.
Quora has not disclosed any information about who the intruders might be or how they gained access to its system. The company said it discovered the data breach on November 30, but Quora did not say when the attackers first broke into its system or how long they had access to the user information.
While passwords were stolen, Quora said these were protected through encryption and a unique salt for each user. A salt is a random number that is needed to access the encrypted data, along with the password, and provides added protection for data. All Quora users have been logged out and affected users will be forced to change their passwords when they next log in. They have also been notified of the breach by Quora.
Quora relies on the website traffic that comes from people searching questions in their browsers, but it has been criticised for requiring users to create an account before giving them access to the site.
It has also been reported that people have found they somehow have Quora accounts that they never signed up for. There have been some reports that Quora was creating profiles for users based off their linked accounts without their knowledge. But Quora say they do not create accounts for a user's Facebook friends unless those friends explicitly sign up for Quora themselves.
In 2017 Quora served approximately 190 million unique visitors a month, and was valued at $1.8 billion following a funding round that same year.
The site attracts its fair share of celebrity contributors, with Gary Vaynerchuk, Ryan Holiday, Hillary Clinton, and even Barack Obama having all written on Quora.