Thousands of Norton LifeLock customers had their accounts compromised in recent weeks, potentially allowing criminal hackers access to customer password managers, the company revealed in a recent data breach notice.
In a notice to customers, Gen Digital, the parent company of Norton LifeLock, said that the likely culprit was a credential stuffing attack — where previously exposed or breached credentials are used to break into accounts on different sites and services that share the same passwords — rather than a compromise of its systems. It's why two-factor authentication, which Norton LifeLock offers, is recommended, as it blocks attackers from accessing someone's account with just their password.
The company said it found that the intruders had compromised accounts as far back as December 1, close to two weeks before its systems detected a "large volume" of failed logins to customer accounts on December 12.
"In accessing your account with your username and password, the unauthorized third party may have viewed your first name, last name, phone number, and mailing address," the data breach notice said. The notice was sent to customers that it believes use its password manager feature, because the company cannot rule out that the intruders also accessed customers' saved passwords.
Gen Digital said it sent notices to about 6,450 customers whose accounts were compromised.
Norton LifeLock provides identity protection and cybersecurity services. It's the latest incident involving the theft of customer passwords of late. Earlier this year, password manager giant LastPass confirmed a data breach in which intruders compromised its cloud storage and stole millions of customers' encrypted password vaults. In 2021, the company behind a popular enterprise password manager called Passwordstate was hacked to push a tainted software update to its customers, allowing the cybercriminals to steal customers' passwords.
That said, password managers are still widely recommended by security professionals for generating and storing unique passwords, so long as the appropriate precautions and protections are put in place to limit the fallout in the event of a compromise.