X-Factor hopefuls' details hacked

Posted by Kate Taylor

As many as a quarter of a million X-Factor contestants may have got a little more exposure than they bargained for, thanks to a hacking attack.

The wannabe stars - some as young as 12 - have been warned that their email addresses, zip codes, phone numbers dates of birth and gender may all have been captured. Financial details, though, have never been taken by the X-Factor and therefore aren't under threat.

"We are taking this matter very seriously and are working with federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this illegal action," Fox Bradcasting told contestants in a letter.

"The X Factor will never ask you to email personal information such as financial data, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or the user name or passwords you use to access other websites. If you receive an email that appears to be from Fox.com or The X Factor asking for personal information, please delete it, as it did not come from us."

The timing is unfortunate, as the shows rules recently changed to allow children as young as 12 to apply.

"Surely, this data should have been encrypted and brutally difficult for outsiders to access?" says security firm Sophos' Carole Theriault.

"So the sensitive contact information of hopeful kids as young as 12 could now be in the hands of hackers. Not good."