A security consultant has published 10 million passwords along with their corresponding usernames in a move he characterized as both necessary and legally risky given a legal landscape he said increasingly threatens the free flow of hacking-related information.
Most of the existing corpus of passwords exposed in hack attacks is stripped of usernames, preventing researchers from studying the possible relationship between the two fields. Mark Burnett, a well-known security consultant who has developed a specialty collecting and researching passwords leaked online, said his sole motivation for releasing the data was to advance what's already known about the way people choose passcodes. At the same time, he said he was worried the list might land him in legal hot water given the recent five-year sentence handed to former Anonymous activist and writer Barrett Brown, in part based on links to hacked authentication data he posted in Internet chat channels.
"I think this is completely absurd that I have to write an entire article justifying the release of this data out of fear of prosecution or legal harassment," he wrote in a post published Monday night on his blog. "I had wanted to write an article about the data itself but I will have to do that later because I had to write this lame thing trying to convince the FBI not to raid me."