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Opera Investigates After Sync Server Data Breach

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Opera admits breach of its servers and warns accounts and passwords could have been compromised

The latest business to suffer a data breach is the Norwegian web browsing specialist Opera Software.

It warned that account information and passwords may have been compromised and it is urging users to change their passwords.

Sync Breach

Opera revealed the data breach in a blog posting last week. It said it had detected an attack on the Opera sync system and had quickly closed it down.

Opera sync allows users to switch between several computers and smartphones, without the user losing track of a particular web page.

“Earlier this week, we detected signs of an attack where access was gained to the Opera sync system,” Opera blogged. “This attack was quickly blocked. Our investigations are ongoing, but we believe some data, including some of our sync users’ passwords and account information, such as login names, may have been compromised.”

Opera ad block newThe good news is that Opera only stores encrypted (for synchronised passwords) or hashed and salted (for authentication) passwords in the breached system. The firm also said that it had reset all the Opera sync account passwords as a precaution.

“We have also sent emails to all Opera sync users to inform them about the incident and ask them to change the password for their Opera sync accounts,” said the firm. It also said that it is encouraging users to also reset any passwords to third party sites they may have synchronised with the service, just to be on the safe side.

Opera sync users are advised to utilise the password resetting page here.

The browser produced by the Norwegian firm is used by 350 million people, but it said that the total active number of users of Opera sync in the last month is 1.7 million, less than 0.5 percent of the total Opera user base.

Users who do not use Opera sync, do not need to take any action.

“We take your data security very seriously, and want to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this might have caused,” said the firm.

Underrated Browser

To many industry watchers Opera is a much underrated browser as it only makes up around 1 percent of the total browser market.

But right from the start it included a lot of innovative features. For example it is fast, and the user interface is minimal (ideal for smaller screens), which helped cement its reputation as the browser of choice on mobile handsets.

Opera also compressed web traffic by routing it through Opera’s servers, which made a huge difference to web browsing speeds for those stuck on slow mobile or rural internet connections.

Opera also became the first major PC web browser developer to include native ad blocking, and claims web pages can load up to 90 percent faster than without any tools activated.

It subsequently ported native ad blocking to the Android, and then iOS and Windows Phone versions of its web browser, meaning all mobile platforms could now rid themselves of intrusive advertising on the web.

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