Dropbox blames employee account breach for spam attack

The company said it plans to introduce new protections to guard against account compromises

Dropbox said Tuesday one of its employee's accounts was compromised, leading to a raft of spam last month that irritated users of the cloud-storage service.

A stolen password was used to access the employee's account, which contained "a project document with user email addresses," Dropbox engineer Aditya Agarwal wrote on the company's blog.

"We believe this improper access is what led to the spam," Agarwal wrote. "We're sorry about this, and have put additional controls in place to help make sure it doesn't happen again."

The company also found that usernames and passwords that had been stolen from other websites were used to access "a small number of Dropbox accounts," Agarwal wrote. Hackers commonly try username and password combinations from breaches on other web services in hopes people use the same combination, a common security problem.

The spam, written in German, English and Dutch, advertised gambling websites and seemed to affect only European users. Many of those users wrote on the company's forum they had used a unique email address solely for Dropbox, leading to suspicions the company had been hacked.

Dropbox brought in an outside security team to investigate, but maintained on July 21 that it had found no intrusion of its internal systems or other compromised accounts.

In light of the breach, Dropbox said it plans in a few weeks to introduce two-factor authentication, such as a system that would send a temporary code to a person's phone.

Other planned upgrades include a new page that will show logs of user account activity and other "automated mechanisms to help identify suspicious activity," Agarwal wrote. Users may also be prompted to change their password if it has not been changed in a long time.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts