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Hacking of Hookers.nl leaked data of about 250,000 users

Hackers have obtained data as well as personal details of about 250,000 users of Hookers.nl, Dutch sex-work forum. The breach has been confirmed by a moderator of Hookers.nl on Oct 10, 2019.

Hookers.nl moderator said that the software supplier of sex-work forum (i.e. vBulletin) reported bug in their chat room software in Sep. 2019, which has allowed an outsider to access the site's database. vBulletin has addressed this bug, but numerous sites got breached before the protection was reportedly installed.

The moderator wrote "action has been taken as quickly as possible. vBulletin has released a software patch that we have implemented after testing to address the leak".

Due to the data breach, the email addresses were stolen from all the users. They claimed all these email addresses have been offered for online sale by hackers, and thus recommended the users to change the login details. The moderator added that "offering this information for sale is punishable by law, and if possible we will take legal action. In addition, a report has been made to the Dutch data protection authority".

The website is reportedly used both by the sex workers as well as their customers. Although prostitution is totally legal in Netherlands, but one serious concern and fear for this kind of leaks is that the real identities of the users will get exposed and then they could face blackmail, professional or personal consequences.

"The hacker, who appears to show no remorse, could potentially accept payment and still leak the data to the internet. For victims, it is going to be hard to make a decision, the temptation to pay up may be high, but there is no guarantee that this will result in their identity being kept a secret," said Ray Walsh, the digital privacy advocate in ProPrivacy.com, as published in Eurasia Times on Oct. 14, 2019.

Dutch broadcaster NOS, who broke this story, spoke with the hacker, confirming that this data leak includes the user names, IP addresses as well as passwords. The hacker said that the data is yet to be sold, however they expect that it would soon. The hacker added that certainly the people want to buy this data.

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