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Russian dating site Topface pays hacker to give stolen emails back

It seems as the urban legend, in which a hacker exploits vulnerability in a big company’s website only to later be employed by the same company, has gotten another example, this time in Russia.

Russian online dating site Topface has reportedly bought back some 20 million stolen email addresses, and then employed the hacker who managed to steal them.

An unknown individual has apparently stolen 20 million email addresses from Topface, which is said to have 92 million users, and put them up for sale.

Dmitry Filatov, CEO of the St. Petersburg-based dating service, said that as the hacker had not passed the data on to anyone no charges would be made against him or her, Tech Week Europe has reported (opens in new tab).

Instead of calling it a “ransom”, Topface says it’s a “reward for finding a vulnerability”. The amount of money “given” as a “reward” remains unknown.

Topface is recommending that customers change their passwords, although Filatov added that about 95 per cent of the dating website’s users access the service through their own social media accounts, and the company store users’ billing information.

As Tech Week Europe writes, it’s rumoured that the hacker is now working with Topface as a consultant of sorts.

Filatov apologised to Topface users for any inconvenience and reassured them that the company plans to improve data-protection system, according to the statement.

Jeremiah, CEO of WhiteHat Security told ITProPortal: "Vulnerabilities in websites are incredibly common, even amongst the largest brands and cyber-attacks like these have become every day occurrence. Many business are still unaware of online business risks, or have delayed taking appropriate action, which is unfortunate for them and their uses.

It's vital that businesses understand their own true security posture better than the cyber-criminals. The best way to do that is using a concept called "Hack Yourself First", where experts are deployed to constantly check for and report website vulnerabilities proactively before disaster strikes.”

Topface (opens in new tab)is a rapidly-growing free Russian dating site.

“Every day 25 million likes are sent through Topface and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world find new acquaintances”, says Filatov.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.