771 million email addresses made public

THE email addresses and some passwords of 771 million people have been published online in a gigantic data leak.

Personal data collected by a "spambot" called Onliner has been dumped on a web server in the Netherlands.

This bot spreads malware that steals banking details and infects people's computers to pump out more viruses as well as vast amounts of spam - unwanted emails.

Troy Hunt owns the website HaveIBeenPwned.com and said the leak was "the largest single set of data I've ever loaded" into the site.

His website offers an easy way of finding out whether your details have been published in this or other data breaches.

Pwned means owned, conquered or humiliated.

"Just for a sense of scale, that's almost one address for every single man, woman and child in all of Europe," he said.

Mr Hunt said the incident was so severe that even he was caught up in it.

He added: "The first place to start is with an uncomfortable truth: my email address is in there. Twice."

Anyone whose email address is on the list is likely to be hit by a barrage of spam.

Plus, your email account could be turned into a spam factory or used to distribute dangerous malware.

The Onliner spambot is known to help the spread of the Ursnif banking trojan virus that steals login details for online bank accounts.

"The malwarecontained a ... component in the Netherlands which exposed a large number of files containing personal information," he said.

"In total, there were 711 million unique email addresses, many of which were also accompanied by corresponding passwords. A full write-up on what data was found is in the blog post titled Inside the Massive 711 Million Record Onliner Spambot Dump" on his website

Hunt said the existence of the server has been handed to Dutch police so they can shut it down. - The Sun