Hackers didn’t waste any time and have started hijacking Disney+ user accounts hours after the service launched.
Many of these accounts are now being offered for free on hacking forums, or available for sale for prices varying from $3 to $11, a ZDNet investigation has discovered.
A stream of user complaints
The Disney+ video streaming service launched this week, on November 12. The service, although being available only in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, has already amassed more than 10 million customers in its first 24 hours.
The Disney+ launch was marred by technical issues. Many users reported being unable to stream their favorite movies and shows.
But hidden in the flood of complaints about technical issues was a smaller stream of users reporting losing access to their accounts.
Many users reported that hackers were accessing their accounts, logging them out of all devices, and then changing the account’s email and password, effectively taking over the account and locking the previous owner out.
Complaints like the ones above flooded social networks like Twitter and Reddit.
Disney + launch has been absolutely horrible. Their customer service is no help at all and apparently hundreds of accounts were hacked and sold online. My account got hacked & email/password changed, thankfully I cancelled my subscription before the hack.
— Harry (@Harry8__) November 15, 2019
#distwitter has anyone’s @disneyplus account been hacked? My friend’s was; hackers changed email and password. Now she’s completely blocked from her 3-year prepaid Disney+ account. She’s been on hold for >2 hours
— cat+dog=happyhome (@Travel4vr) November 12, 2019
Two users who spoke with ZDNet on the condition we do not share their names admitted that they reused passwords. However, other users said online that they did not, and had used passwords unique for their Disney+ accounts.
This suggests that in some cases hackers gained access to accounts by using email and password combos leaked at other sites, while in other cases the Disney+ credentials might have been obtained from users infected with keylogging or info-stealing malware.
Up for sale!
The speed at which hackers have mobilized to monetize Disney+ accounts is astounding. Accounts were put up for sale on hacking forums within hours after the service’s launch.
As of this article’s writing, hacking forums have been flooded with Disney+ accounts, with ads offering access to thousands of account credentials.
Prices vary from $3 per account to as much as $11 — which, by the way, is more than what a legitimate Disney+ account costs from Disney, which is $7.
Below are screenshots that ZDNet took of various ads, along with screenshots we received from multiple sources that helped our investigations.
However, in our search for ads on various hacking forums, we also came across several lists of Disney+ account credentials being offered for free, to be shared and used by the hacker community (Disney+ allows account sharing).
When we looked into the lists, we found usernames and cleartext credentials. We emailed some users on two lists, and some replied, confirming that the credentials were theirs, and still active.
ZDNet also reached out to Disney for comment. We asked the company about the security systems it has in place to protect users from account hijacking. We did not receive a response before this article’s publication.
But to be fair, the company has little it can do in these kinds of things. It’s usually users’ bad password practices that get the accounts hacked. As some of the hacked users have admitted, many have reused old passwords.
What Disney+ is facing right now is what other streaming services have been fighting against for years. Hacking forums have been overflowing with hacked Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix accounts. The reason hackers are still putting up new accounts for sale on a regular basis is that people are buying.
The advice for Disney+ account holders is to use unique passwords for their accounts. This won’t prevent malware on their devices from stealing their passwords, but it will prevent the most common scenario of hackers gaining access to accounts just by guessing the password.