Alibaba data breach exposes 1.1 billion pieces of data

A view of Alibaba's headquarters in China
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alibaba’s shopping website Taobao was trawled for 8 months which resulted in over 1.1 billion pieces of user information being collected by a software developer.

The unnamed developer used web-crawling software in November 2019 and gathered information including user IDs, mobile-phone numbers and customer comments, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A criminal verdict was published by the People's Court of Suiyang District stating that two criminals, the developer and his employer, were involved in the crawl, as reported by local media last week.

When Alibaba noticed the data leaks from its shopping website, which occurred after several months, it informed the authorities, the court statement detailed.

Following a police investigation, the report suggests the two individuals were sentenced to imprisonment for over three years each and fined 100,000 yuan (£11,077) and 350,000 yuan (£38,771) for "infringing on citizens' personal information."

IT Pro has contacted Alibaba for a statement.

In May, Air India stated that a cyber attack on the systems of its data processor affected around 4.5 million of its customers around the world. The breach involved personal information registered over a ten year period and exposed name, data of birth, credit card data, passport information and more.

Earlier this week, the US subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group suffered a data breach that affected 3.3 million customers after a vendor left unsecured data exposed on the internet. The company believes the data was unsecured at some point between August 2019 and May 2021 and an unauthorised third party may have obtained certain customer information. The data exposed included customers’ names, email addresses and phone numbers.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.