eBay users asked to change their passwords after hack

Hackers quietly broke into eBay two months ago and stole a database full of user information, the online auction site reveals

Online marketplace eBay is forcing users to change their passwords after a cyber-attack compromised its systems.

The US firm said a database had been hacked between late February and early March, and had contained encrypted passwords and other non-financial data.

eBay's subsidiary, PayPal, said it was untouched by the data breach. PayPal data, which is sensitive because it includes payment information, is kept on a separate network.

The company added that it had no evidence of there being unauthorised activity on its members' accounts.

However, it said that changing the passwords was "best practice and will help enhance security for eBay users".

The California-based company has 128 million active users and accounted for $212bn (£126bn) worth of commerce on its various marketplaces and other services in 2013.

It said it would be contacting users to alert them of the issue via email, its website, adverts and social media.

A spokesman added that the firm's engineers were in the process of rolling out a feature that would oblige members to choose new passwords when they next logged in, which should be live in each of the countries eBay operated in by the end of the day.

A post on eBay's corporate site said that cyber-attackers accessed the information after obtaining "a small number of employee log-in credentials", allowing them to access its systems - something it only became aware of a fortnight ago.

"The database... included eBay customers' name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth," it said.

"However, the database did not contain financial information or other confidential personal information.

"Extensive forensics subsequently identified the compromised eBay database, resulting in the company's announcement today."

Although the firm also owns the PayPal money transfer service, it said that the division's data was stored separately, encrypted and that there was no evidence that it had been accessed.

It added that any members who used the same login details used on eBay for other sites should also update them.

EBay has not provided any information about the kind of encryption it used.

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