The data breach at Hotmail that sent out tens of thousands of spam emails has exposed the identity of its customers.
The Australian Financial Reviews has been told by a source close to Hotmail it is not known yet if the stolen identity has been exposed to the public.
But the information is already available in the Hotmail user database and has been posted on the site’s forum and on Twitter.
The breach was revealed on Friday by a tip-off from a Hotmail employee who discovered it through a bug.
A Hotmail spokeswoman confirmed the account had been compromised, but declined to provide further details.
Hotmail users are not automatically notified when their email address has been stolen, although they may be notified by email.
According to the company, the breach occurred on Friday, March 13, and the account has been temporarily disabled.
The account was temporarily disabled because it was “impervious to our security measures”.
However, the company has released a statement saying it was the fault of the employee who reported the breach.
Hotmail was one of Australia’s top internet services providers (ISPs), and it is one of the largest providers of email services in the world.
Its data protection policies include measures to prevent its customers from sharing personal information.
The data breach occurred because the employee in question did not immediately check the credentials of his Hotmail account and, instead, assumed the account belonged to a third party.
He then used a trick to gain access to the account, the statement said.
Hotline calls are being used by the company to notify the affected Hotmail users about the breach, the spokeswoman said.
In a statement, Hotmail said it was working closely with law enforcement to identify the person who took the account.
“Our investigations are ongoing, and we are in contact with the relevant authorities,” the company said.
The company has posted a list of the accounts that have been accessed in the breach to help its customers make sense of the breach and prevent further data breaches.
Users can now choose to log in to their Hotmail accounts using their Hotlink accounts, which have been disabled.