A remarkable increase in "spoofing" emails sent from fake AOL addresses has confirmed a major security breach, the company announced. Hackers gained access to a huge number of email addresses and encrypyted passwords of "a significant number of accounts," the company confirmed Monday. Spoofing is a technique used by hackers to make it seem as though emails are coming from recipients known to the user, and therefore tricks them into opening a potentially hazardous email. A number of users had reported suspicious-looking emails arriving in their accounts, which led to the discovery.
"The ongoing investigation of this serious criminal activity is our top priority," stated AOL. "We are working closely with federal authorities to pursue this investigation to its resolution. Our security team has put enhanced protective measures in place and we urge our users to take proactive steps to help ensure the security of their accounts." The company then encouraged its users to change their passwords and security questions to protect themselves from hackers.