Ticketmaster hackers are holding data of 440,000 Taylor Swift ticketholders for ransom

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Remember that massive Ticketmaster hack earlier this year? Well, it turns out this breach was bigger than initially thought. As in, “440,000 compromised tickets just for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour” big.

Cybersecurity publication Hackread reports that hacker group ShinyHunters updated their ransom demand on Thursday, asking Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment to shell out $8 million for the safe return of the information. Though ShinyHunters claimed it previously accepted a “rushed” offer of $1 million from Live Nation, the group has since assessed the hacked data and revised its demands. Apparently ShinyHunters deduced the data is significantly more valuable than they’d initially believed.

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Ticketmaster confirms massive hack. What you need to know.

“[W]e found out how to make way more expensive and insurance surely accepts this; we restart negotiations at $8M let the negotiator and insurance know,” read a post from ShinyHunters (via a screenshot by Hackread), published on the notorious hacking forum Breach Forums.

According to ShinyHunters, the group has obtained a total of 193 million ticket barcodes, valued at over $22.6 billion in total. This includes 440,000 tickets for Taylor Swift’s ongoing Eras Tour, as well as 30 million more for 65,000 other events.

It’s unclear exactly when Live Nation purportedly offered to pay the $1 million ransom, or whether it actually happened at all. Ticketmaster has denied ShinyHunter’s claim, saying that the company never agreed to pay a ransom and did not offer the hackers any money.

“Ticketmaster’s SafeTix technology protects tickets by automatically refreshing a new and unique barcode every few seconds so it cannot be stolen or copied,” Ticketmaster said in a statement to Mashable. “This is just one of many fraud protections we implement to keep tickets safe and secure.”

ShinyHunters initially attempted to sell the data for $500,000 at the end of May, when the Ticketmaster breach was first reported. At the time, the 1.3 terabytes were believed to contain sensitive information belonging to 560 million Ticketmaster customers. This included users’ full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, their ticket purchase history and details, and even partial payment data such as credit card expiry dates.

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ShinyHunters’ latest announcement has now provided further details on the breach, stating that the hacked information includes 400 million encrypted credit cards, 440 million unique email addresses, and 680 million order details. The hacker group claims that this makes it “the largest publicly disclosed non-scrape breach of customer [personally identifiable information] of all time.”

Ticketmaster’s ongoing troubles

Ticketmaster has been having a hard time of it lately, even beyond the universal loathing it commonly receives. Last year the company was the subject of a U.S. Senate hearing investigating the apparent lack of competition in the live music industry. The U.S. Justice Department later filed a lawsuit aiming to break up Live Nation this May, accusing it of violating antitrust laws. According to the complaint, over 70 percent of tickets sold or resold for major U.S. concert venues in 2022 were handled by Ticketmaster.

For its part, Live Nation has denied that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, claiming in a previous statement to Mashable that “competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin.” Of course, having a shrinking market share doesn’t preclude a company from also having a monopoly, especially if it’s starting from a dominant position of 70 percent.

This also isn’t the first time Ticketmaster has fallen afoul of Taylor Swift fans. The 2022 presale for Swift’s Eras Tour was infamously a fiasco, with Ticketmaster subsequently cancelling the public ticket sale due to “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” The company issued an official apology, though this did not stave off a subsequent lawsuit from disgruntled Swifties. Unhappy fans accused Ticketmaster of operating an “anticompetitive scheme,” deceiving fans by failing to disclose that it had sent more presale codes than it could actually service with tickets.

Swift released an official statement following the Eras Tour ticket debacle, expressing her frustration and revealing that Ticketmaster had assured her team it could handle the demand after they’d inquired about it multiple times.

“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them,” wrote Swift.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the headache still isn’t over for at least 440,000 of those Swifties.

UPDATE: Jul. 6, 2024, 8:35 a.m. AEST This article has been updated with statement from Live Nation.



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