Hold Security made quite a splash in the security world on Wednesday when it claimed to have recovered 272 million stolen email credentials from a much larger trove, but on Friday the email provider most strongly affected called the report an effort to create media hype.
Hold suggested that nearly 57 million of the stolen email accounts uncovered were from the popular Russian service Mail.ru. But more than 99.9 percent of the Mail.ru account credentials in a sample examined by the provider are invalid, the Russian company said.
Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo accounts were also included in the stash Hold claimed to have recovered, as were credentials from numerous other services.
"The database is most likely a compilation of a few old data dumps collected by hacking Web services where people used their email address to register," Mail.ru said. "Therefore, it is fair to assume that the sole purpose of issuing the report was to create media hype and draw the public attention to Holden’s cybersecurity business."
Even if many of the accounts included in the data set are inactive, there could still be a risk for users who rely on their email address as a user ID for other services, Holden said by email.
In addition, the credentials could be used for spam or phishing, thereby exposing "a sizable portion of the user base to unwanted abuse," he added.
It wasn't until a request from Reuters that Mail.ru learned of Hold's report, the Russian provider said by email. The company then contacted Hold and received a sample of the data. It did not specify the size of the sample it obtained, but an initial analysis indicated that no live accounts were included, Mail.ru said early Thursday.
Since then, further analysis by Mail.ru found that 22.