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Spam attack worse than first thought

11 Feb 2013

Telecom's explanation of the ongoing YahooXtra email account breaches is "demonstrably false" according to a tech expert in the industry.

With news coming through this morning of a "suspected phishing issue" regarding many New Zealand email accounts, the 150 customers first feared to be involved may actually run into the thousands.

While it is not yet known how the Yahoo Xtra accounts were breached, Telecom's account of why has fallen on deaf ears with Institute of Information Technology Professionals executive Paul Matthews saying Yahoo were victims of a serious attack.

"There is no doubt whatsoever [attackers] are using actual contact details from Xtra email accounts," he told NZ Herald.

Despite a quiet morning on the comment front, Telecom has responded to the latest claims, saying they are seeking an "urgent update" from Yahoo regarding the attack.

Even more worrying for customers is that Telecom claimed the alleged incident took place over the weekend, yet customers have come out to quash the suggestions.

"We got our first spam email with this hack on 2nd Feb, not just last Saturday," ShipMyTrade says.

"Might be because we have had over 300,000 different clients contact us over the past seven years?

"I rang Telecom and said I can send them the email address of every spam I have received from their clients sothat they can contact their clients to change their password - they were not interested in helping their clients.

"If they say only 150 affected then I have received over 50% of those affected - yeah right."

Other customers added further weight to the opinion, with 24/7 Hosting NZ saying:

"We first brought this to Telecom's attention via Facebook on Saturday evening after seeing several thousand spam emails from xtra.co.nz coming through our network.

"I would say the customers affected are in the thousands not just 150."

As reported by Techday this morning, a recorded message from Xtra said the problem was now fixed but that will be little consolation to the customers, including Greg, who says:

"The first I knew of the hack was a phone call from a relative in Australia who received the dubious email from my business computer although my computer had been turned off for three days while I was in another part of the country.

"It has a very high level of security protection in four different ways. I suspect this is not the last we have heard of these scumbags, hopefully Telecom/Yahoo will find a way to block it.

"I also understand Interpol tried to track the hackers and I hope they do."

With customers now saying spam emails came through at least days before Saturday, and also from Australia and not just New Zealand, it appears the problem is more serious that either Telecom or Yahoo were letting on, or simply knew about.

"This is clearly a problem with Yahoo, which also handles xtra, and they are saying nothing," Yahoo customer Mat says.

"My first email came from a yahoo account in Australia, not an xtra.co.nz account, and at least a day or two before Saturday when Telecom says it started.

"People I know who have not opened the emails have been sending out the spam around the world.

"The problem clearly is with the server, not individual computers."

Please revisit the article through out the day as comments from both customers and companies affected will be updated.

Have you been breached? Tell us your thoughts below