US telecommunications giant, Comcast, has confirmed a significant security breach that resulted in the unauthorised access of sensitive information belonging to almost 36 million customers of its cable television and internet division Xfinity.

The breach was executed by exploiting a security vulnerability known as CitrixBleed, which has been actively targeted by hackers since late August.

The vulnerability in question is associated with Citrix networking devices, commonly used by major corporations. Despite Citrix releasing patches in early October to address the flaw, numerous organisations, including Comcast, failed to apply the updates in a timely manner.

Notable victims of the CitrixBleed vulnerability include aerospace giant Boeing, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and international law firm Allen & Overy.

Comcast confirmed that Xfinity fell victim to CitrixBleed in a notice to customers issued on Monday (18 December).

According to Comcast, hackers took advantage of the CitrixBleed vulnerability to gain access to internal systems between 16 October and 19 October. However, the company only detected malicious activity on 25 October.

By mid November, Xfinity concluded that the hackers likely acquired information, including usernames and hashed passwords, which are encrypted to prevent human readability. The specific hashing algorithm used remains unclear, raising concerns about the potential vulnerability of weaker algorithms.

In addition to usernames and passwords, certain customers may have had their names, contact information, dates of birth, the last four digits of social security numbers and secret questions and answers compromised, according to Comcast.

Comcast did not disclose the exact number of impacted Xfinity customers in its notice, but in a filing with Maine’s attorney general, it confirmed that nearly 35.8 million customers were affected.

Considering Comcast’s reported customer base of over 32 million broadband subscribers, it implies that the breach has likely impacted the majority, if not all, Xfinity customers.

As of now, it remains unclear whether the hackers issued a ransom demand, the extent of the impact on Comcast’s operations, or whether the incident has been reported to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in accordance with data breach reporting rules.

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