Investment broker company Robinhood has disclosed they were hit by a security breach that exposed the personal information of millions of its users. The company had rejected a demand for ransom prior to the breach.
Robinhood Markets is a financial services and broker-dealer company offering stock-trading and cryptocurrency services to over 31 million users. Users can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds and cryptocurrencies using the company’s app.
Robinhood is popular largely among (often young) people hoping to invest independently in low volume. The company gained attention in January of this year during the GameStop short squeeze event that saw the value of GameStop’s stop rise and fall dramatically.
The data breach on November 3 exposed the email addresses over five million users and the names of two million. A small group of users—roughly 310—had more specific personal information exposed including their names, date of birth, and zip code.
According to Robinhood, the breach did not expose details pertaining to social security numbers or bank or debit card numbers.
The attack began with a phone call with a Robinhood customer service representative. The “unauthorised party” behind the attack mined the representative for information to use to access the company’s support systems. This type of scam is often referred to as “social engineering”.
Robinhood was able to contain the breach but was approached by the intruder who demanded a payment shortly thereafter. Robinhood refused to make the payment.
This is not the first time Robinhood’s security has been breached. In 2020 Robinhood disclosed that around 2,000 user accounts had been compromised in an online hacking stint.
The November 2021 breach was disclosed by Robinhood in a statement just under a week after it took place.
“We owe it to our customers to be transparent and act with integrity,” said Robinhood’s security officer Caleb Sima.
“Following a diligent review, putting the entire Robinhood community on notice of this incident now is the right thing to do.”
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