Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Safety on the Line: Messenger urges password changes

AFP, TOKYO

Smartphone messenger application Line, which has hundreds of millions of users across Asia, yesterday urged people to change their passwords as Japanese police investigated unauthorized access involving hundreds of accounts.

At least 303 such cases were confirmed between late May and Saturday last week, including three that involved cash trades resulting in financial losses, a Line spokesman told reporters, without providing further details.

“We are cooperating with police in investigating the cases and we are calling for users to change passwords,” the spokesman said.

The accounts were accessed “presumably after shared passwords with other online services were leaked somewhere else,” he said, adding that to the company’s knowledge, all of the breaches occurred in Japan.

A police spokesman said the case was under investigation.

Set up in 2011, Line now has more than 400 million users, mainly in Japan and Asia, and is growing fast.

The service lets users make free calls, send instant messages and post photos or short videos, combining attributes from Facebook, Skype and messaging application WhatsApp.

Line has forged heavyweight partnerships with soccer clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, brands such as Coca-Cola and tennis star Rafael Nadal.

FC Barcelona, for instance, has a home page on the app which has millions of “friends.”

One of Line’s main selling points is its set of “stickers” — funny, cartoon-like figures that users can post to friends.

Dwango, the operator of the high-profile Niconico video sharing forum, reported last week more than 200,000 accounts had been hacked.

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