June 20, 2016 by The Canadian Press
TORONTO – VerticalScope, a Toronto-based company that operates hundreds of websites and online forums, was the victim of a hacker earlier this year who stole millions of user records.
“We believe that any potential breach is limited to user names, user IDs, email addresses, IP addresses and encrypted passwords of our community users,” Jerry Orban, vice-president of corporate development, said in an emailed statement of the February data breach.
“In addition, we are reviewing our security policies and practices and in response to increased Internet awareness of security-related incidents, including potential incidents on our communities, we are implementing security changes related to our forum password strength and password expiration policies across certain forum communities.”
VerticalScope owns and operates hundreds of online forums and websites including AutoGuide.com, PetGuide.com, Motorcycle.com and ATV.com.
Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B), which publishes the Toronto Star, acquired a 56 per cent stake in VerticalScope Holdings last year for $200 million.
In a recent notice on its website, VerticalScope said it was “implementing some security changes related to our forum password strength and password expiration policies.”
The company said it had “recently became aware of potential risks to community accounts” on many online forums.
“These changes include minimum password rules, and periodic reminders to our users on password safety tips, including avoiding the re-use of passwords across other social media platforms and communities,” the notice said.
It is also implementing “stricter password expiration rules, which will force our users to have to change their passwords on a more regular basis.”
VerticalScope added that its internal security team is investigating information we have received about potential risks to communities and collecting and recording the findings for law enforcement agencies.