A file containing hundreds of thousands of RootsWeb users' email, login information, and passwords was found externally exposed, genealogy site says.
Ancestry's RootsWeb.com server, which hosts a free genealogical community site, exposed a file containing emails, login information, and passwords of 300,000 users, Ancestry stated in a blog post over the weekend.
An outside researcher informed the company of the exposed file on Dec. 20, according to Ancestry. And while the 300,000 accounts were affiliated with RootsWeb.com's surname list service that it retired earlier this year, 55,000 of the user names belonged to both the free RootsWeb.com site and also to Ancestry.com, which charges for some of its genealogical services.
The company noted that 7,000 of the emails and log-in credentials belonged to active Ancestry.com users.
RootsWeb does not host sensitive information like credit card and social security numbers, the company stated, further noting it has "no reason to believe that any Ancestry systems were compromised."
The company is currently in the process of notifying all affected customers and is working with law enforcement on the matter. Ancestry.com subscribers who had their information exposed will need a new password to unlock their account, according to the company. Additionally, RootsWeb.com has been taken temporarily offline to enhance its infrastructure, the company notes.
Although the company is seeking to retain all the data on RootsWeb.com, it notes it may not be able to preserve all the user-supplied information that is hosted on the free community site. However, RootsWeb's email lists will not be affected by the temporary shutdown of the site, according to a report in the Legal Genealogist.
Read more about Ancestry's security incident blog post here.