In the wake of the leak of personal information of more than 500 million Facebook users, here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
The leak, reported on April 3, included Facebook IDs, phone numbers, birthdates, biographical details and more. That information was made publicly available in an unsecured database.
"Have I Been Pwned?" is a popular website that allows you to check whether your personal data has been compromised. To date, that’s been done by entering your email address.
Because of the Facebook breach, however, Troy Hunt, owner of the site, said he’s changed the website to make phone numbers searchable too for the Facebook breach.
LINKEDIN SAYS SOME USER DATA SCRAPED AND POSTED FOR SALE
"The Facebook data changed all that. There's over 500M phone numbers but only a few million email addresses so >99% of people were getting a ‘miss’ when they should have gotten a ‘hit,’" Hunt wrote in a blog post.
"There's been huge interest in this incident," Hunt said, adding that he is seeing "near-unprecedented traffic" to the website because of the Facebook breach.
In response to a query from FOX Business, Facebook pointed to an April 6 blog post.
The leak involved old data from a 2019 breach and that it was "addressed" that time, Facebook said.
"It is important to understand that malicious actors obtained this data not through hacking our systems but by scraping it from our platform prior to September 2019," Facebook said in the blog post.
|FB||META PLATFORMS INC.||318.15||-13.75||-4.14%|
Scraping refers to the use of automated software to lift public information from the internet, which is then distributed in online forums.
Facebook advises that you make your settings "align with" what you want to be sharing publicly.
For instance, update the "How People Find and Contact You" which is found under "Settings and Privacy."
Facebook also recommends you do a "privacy checkup" that includes "who can see what you share" and "how to keep your account secure" where you can also enable two-factor authentication.
Beyond the Facebook breach
Password leaks are one of the most common breaches of sensitive personal information. "Have I Been Pwned?" will also check if your email is part of a password breach.
Google also keeps track of this in your Google account. Go to https://myaccount.google.com/ and you may see a warning about "Critical Security Issues." If you click on that link, it will take you to a page where you can do a "Security Checkup" and change passwords that have been exposed in a data breach.