More than 700 million email addresses have been released publicly following a massive data breach caused by the Onliner spambot.
With some 711 million addresses leaked, security website HaveIBeenPwned.com outlined the size and scale of the data dump by describing it as “almost one address for every single man, woman and child in all of Europe”.
The data was hosted on an open web server in the Netherlands that was used by spammers. Although the number of email addresses may be a cause for concern, it is believed that the actual number of contact details for real humans will be diluted due to the amount of fake and repeated email addresses within the data.
Additionally, around 164 million of the email addresses contained in the dump were stolen from LinkedIn in May 2016, while another 4.2 million were stolen from Exploit.In.
Writing for HaveIBeenPwned.com, computer security expert Troy Hunt said: “The data in the dump has a bunch of junk prefixed to the address, junk which appears to be a HTML file name and may indicate the ‘address’ was scraped off the web and the parsing simply wasn’t done very well.
“The point here is that there’s going to be a bunch of addresses here that simply aren’t very well-formed so whilst the ‘711 million’ headline is technically accurate, the number of real humans in the data is going to be somewhat less."