Cyber Threats 2014: Darknets, Adobe Passwords, Windows XP, Bitcoin
About 18 million users affected by online data theft

Over 18 million email addresses, passwords and a pile of other private data were stolen by hackers, police in northern Germany have said, less than three months after a similar mass theft of personal data was uncovered.

Officials in the city of  Verden busted the massive online heist and found that many of the accounts were used by unidentified hackers to make online purchases, Deutsche Welle reported.

According to police estimates, at least three million of the compromised accounts belonged to German citizens, the report said, citing sources.

Investigators noted that the compromised email IDs had shared passwords for multiple accounts, while the stolen information may still be in active use. The poached content was being used for criminal activities as well for online spam, according to reports.

Verden authorities have not yet disclosed the details of the hacking racket, but said they have forwarded their findings to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

It is not known how many people from other countries have been the victims of the massive data theft. Once the origin of .com accounts is established, experts will be able to provide the country-wise estimates of breached IDs.

The latest crackdown was executed by the same set of four Verden prosecutors who had unearthed the data theft involving 16 million accounts in January.