The Consumerist resets passwords following breach

The Consumerist seems to have had a security breach. Their blog posts are light on details, though:

On July 15, they wrote:

As some Consumerist readers have noted, the site has been down twice in the past week and we promised an explanation, which follows.

We first took the site down late Wednesday afternoon, when we were alerted to a security concern. The site was then cleaned and cleared by our security experts, and put back online within about two hours.

Last night, we detected a new problem and took the site down for another five hours in order to address that issue.

To limit security concerns, the Consumerist is now operating in a mode that does not permit commenting. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.

As both a precaution and as a best practice, we strongly advise that you change your password at any site where you use the same password as Consumerist. You cannot change your password at Consumerist yet due to the no-comment mode, but we will alert you when that changes.


On July 16, they provided an update:

Because of the nature of the investigation, we cannot – at this time – share further details of the specific changes. But we do want you to know of two actions we will be taking in the next few days that may affect your experience on the site:

***First, we plan to reset all existing passwords. This means that those of you who use log-in access at the Consumerist will need to choose a new password when you log into the site. We will be sending you an email summarizing the same actions described in this post.

***Second, we plan to re-open the Consumerist to comments. As noted yesterday, we turned off commenting as part of our initial response to the latest security incident.

It could take a day or two for these actions to take place but we will post another update when they do occur. In the meantime, here are some answers to questions you may have about the situation:

Q: You said in your post yesterday that I should change my password. Does this mean that my user name or password has been compromised?

A: We don’t yet know for sure, and are investigating that carefully. The password files were encrypted, but as a matter of prudence and good practice we are recommending that you change your password at any site where you use the same password as the one you use at Consumerist. We also plan to reset all existing Consumerist passwords, which will require you to choose a new password when you try to log into the site.


Q: Does this mean that if I visited Consumerist, my computer might have been infected?
A: We don’t know for sure, but if you are worried about a possible infection, you should use your anti-virus software to run a complete scan of your machine. If you don’t already have anti-virus protection on your computer, we strongly suggest you get some. And for additional suggestions on how to cleanse your machine, you can consult the site.


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2 comments to “The Consumerist resets passwords following breach”

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  1. Dan - July 18, 2012

    Consumerist’s problems started after they switched from MovableType to WordPress at the beginning of July. In 3 separate occasions visitors received virus warnings, comments were shut down & the site went offline. Note that Consumerist runs no third party ads.

    • admin - July 19, 2012


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