SOME SINGLE, PROBABLY BOOK LOVING, INDEPENDENT, EDUCATED AND PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE who would like to meet similarly minded partners for dating purposes have been sent spam material after a breach at Guardian Soulmates.
We asked the Guardian what the hell was going on and what the heck it was doing with its punters' information, though not in those words.
It got back to us, saying: "We can confirm we have received 27 enquiries from our members which show evidence of their email addresses used for their Soulmates account having been exposed.
"We take matters of data security extremely seriously and have conducted thorough audits of all our internal systems and are confident that no outside party breached any of these systems.
"Our ongoing investigations point to a human error by one of our third party technology providers, which led to an exposure of an extract of data. This extract contained only members' email addresses and user ID which can be used to find members' publicly available online profiles."
The Guardian reckons that this will not happen again and is definitely the last time, but we expect that this is not the first time that these singletons have heard those words after a trusted partner let them down.
"We have taken appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again, and we continue to review our processes and third party suppliers," it said.
Those third parties eh? Nothing but trouble. Anyway the Guardian apologised, but it's too late for at least one of the affected.
That person told the BBC that they expected a diet of spam forever more. "I'm still pretty miffed that I'll probably forever receive spam from this" they said. That person, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they had stopped using Soul Mates years ago. So perhaps congratulations and canapes are in order?
All victims wished to remain anonymous, and told the BBC that they were identified in the spam emails by their Soul Mates user name, and some other details unique to the service.
One poor bastard said that they had been getting the spams for ages and had contacted the Guardian about them. "I basically had been receiving spam […] directly referencing information that could only have come from the Soulmates database," they said.
"It's all information that I was happy to put online at one point anyway, but when it's used outside of context like that it does feel a lot more creepy."
Hiwot Mendahun, cybersecurity analyst at email security firm Mimecast called it a phishing attack, and we would like to take this opportunity to tell the affected parties that there are plenty more fish in the sea. The Mimecast expert has something wiser to say.
"The Guardian Soulmates phishing attacks highlight how important it is for consumers to become more aware of the risks of providing details on the many services they sign up to.
It is not their fault at all but the more personal the information, the greater the risks of the data being used against them in highly targeted attacks in future," she said.
"Ask to have your data removed should you no longer want to it to be stored with a service or consider using a throwaway, disposable email address for less trusted sites rather than your main account."
Also, just get out there. Maybe try an evening cooking class or something. There is someone out there for everyone, and all that jazz. Plus, your financial information is untouched. µ
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