McDonald's and Walgreens: email addresses, birth dates stolen by hackers

Hackers gained access to a McDonald's database containing an unspecified number of customer email address and birth dates. No mention of passwords stolen.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
The Ronald McDonald balloon floats through Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in New York Nov. 25, 2010.

It’s not been a good week for email security,” Gawker gadget site Gizmodo notes. Just a day after the Gawker blog network was hacked and 1.3 million passwords were stolen comes news that another and very, very different company’s databases have been compromised by computer hackers: McDonald’s.

According to Reuters, McDonald’s Corp has just announced that hackers gained access to a database containing an unidentified number of email address and birthdates for the strange breed of person who goes to McDonald’s’ websites and decides to subscribe.

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On the one hand, the hack is less invasive than the Gawker hack, because it doesn’t appear that passwords were compromised. On the other hand, McDonald’s is being cagey about the actual numbers of customers involved… and while credit card numbers, passwords and social security numbers were not compromised, birthdays were… making it possible on some sites for those email addresses to be paired with birthday security questions.

Gawker and McDonald’s aren’t the only huge breaches in the last week. On Friday, Walgreens admitted that one of their databases containing customer email addresses had been breached as well.

One thing’s for sure: it’s been a great week for hackers, and for the email spammers who were given the windfall of a few million email addresses to start bombarding.

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[Editor's note: The original headline of this story misidentified one of the hacked companies. It was Walgreens and McDonald's that faced database breaches.]

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