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'Second Life' suffers real-world breach




'Second Life' suffers real-world breach
'Second Life' suffers real-world breach



http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009_22-6114046.html 

Reuters
Published on ZDNet News
September 10, 2006

"Second Life," the fast-growing online site where hundreds of thousands 
of people play out fantasy lives online, has suffered a computer 
security breach that exposed the real-world personal data of its users.

Linden Lab, the San Francisco-based company behind the "Second Life" 
site, said in a letter to its 650,000 users this weekend that its 
customer database, including names, addresses, passwords and some credit 
card data, had been compromised.

All users--or residents in "Second Life" parlance--are being required to 
request a new password. Some 286,000 residents have used the site in the 
past 60 days, according to a count on the home page.

"While we realize this is an inconvenience for residents, we believe 
it's the safest course of action," Cory Ondrejka, the chief technology 
officer of Linden Lab, said in the message to "Second Life" customers 
released late on Friday.

"Second Life" is a three-dimensional software world on the Web inhabited 
by animated characters that users design for themselves to interact with 
other participants. Users buy and sell virtual land and build businesses 
with currency called "Linden Dollars," which can be exchanged for real 
currency.

Blurring the line between a multiplayer game and an online business, the 
popularity of the site has spurred Fortune 500 corporations such as 
Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo, along with architects, authors and musicians 
to erect virtual outposts of their organizations or personas.

Retailer American Apparel has created a business to sell clothing for 
the "Second Life" avatars users create to represent themselves inside 
the online world. Musicians such as Duran Duran and Suzanne Vega have 
held concerts inside "Second Life."

The database breach potentially exposed customer data including the 
unencrypted names and addresses, and the encrypted passwords and 
encrypted payment information of all "Second Life" users, Linden Lab 
said in the message to users. Unencrypted credit card information, which 
is stored on a separate database, was not compromised, it said.

The breach was discovered on Wednesday. The company launched an 
investigation that revealed an intruder was able to access the "Second 
Life" databases utilizing a "Zero-Day Exploit" through commercial 
software used on "Second Life" servers.

"Due to the nature of the attack, the company cannot determine which 
individual data were exposed," Linden Lab's statement said. A technical 
probe is ongoing, it said.

The company said it will announced additional security plans on its 
blog.

Story Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


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