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6 Million+ Email Accounts Worldwide Exposed In Past 3 Months

Spike in number of stolen accounts likely due to uptick in major data breaches, researchers say.

More fallout from the epidemic of data breaches that occurred in 2014: More than 6 million email accounts and credentials from around the globe have been leaked in the past three months, according to a new study.

Putting that into perspective, the researchers who gathered that data from the cybercrime market say they typically see around 150,000 such pilfered accounts per month. "This explosion can only be connected to the high number of data breaches that occurred in 2014," Heimdal Security said in a blog post warning of the surge in stolen email account credentials.

The Danish security firm warns that the 6 million exposed email accounts represent just a snapshot of the compromised accounts, however.

"As a security company we only pick up a smaller part of what hackers actually have access to, and you have to remember that the 6 million accounts have only been discovered over the last three months. The actual number could be 20 times as high or more," says Morten Kjaersgaard, CEO of Heimdal Security. 

[This year's wave of cyber attacks was more dramatic in its widespread scope and seemingly constant battering of more than a dozen big-box chains. Check out our slideshow recapping them: The Year Of The Retailer Data Breach.]

Kjaersgaard told Dark Reading that the stolen email account information floating around the cyber underground either has already been or could be used by the bad guys to compromise businesses and individuals.

2014 indeed has been a watershed year for data breaches, mainly due to the wave of big-box retailers that were hacked for customer payment card information.

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