GoDaddy data breach exposes over 1.2 million customer details

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Hosting company GoDaddy has said that around 1.2 million users have been affected by a data breach on its managed WordPress hosting service.

The hack is said to have exposed email addresses, customer numbers, administrative login credentials, and in some cases SSL private keys.

The hosting company discovered that an intruder had gained access to its managed WordPress hosting environment on Nov 17, it said in a filing with the SEC. The intruder used a stolen password to access the provisioning system for the service.

Up to 1.2 million active and former users of the company's managed service had their email addresses and customer numbers exposed, the company said, raising the possibility of further phishing attacks to come. The original administrative passwords for the managed WordPress accounts were also available to the hacker, putting the accounts themselves at risk if the credentials were still in use.

Also exposed were sFTP and database usernames and passwords, and an undisclosed number of users also had their SSL private keys exposed.


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GoDaddy discovered that the intruder had been inside the system since September 6, meaning that the hacker has had access to the data for over two months. It worked with a forensics company upon discovering the incident, and has taken steps to safeguard its systems, including changing original administrative passwords that were still in use, resetting sFTP and database passwords, and installing new digital certificates for affected customers.

"We are sincerely sorry for this incident and the concern it causes for our customers," the company said in its filing. "We, GoDaddy leadership and employees, take our responsibility to protect our customers’ data very seriously and never want to let them down. We will learn from this incident and are already taking steps to strengthen our provisioning system with additional layers of protection."

In 2017, the company revoked thousands of SSL certificates after issuing them without proper checks and authorization. In January 2019, an independent researcher found a vulnerability in its process for handling DNS change requests that enabled hackers to hijack domains and create phishing campaigns. It also notified customers of a hack that exposed SSH login details in the same year.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.