Data breaches are almost always a catastrophic event for privacy and security. Not only can millions of people end up with their personal data exposed, but these breaches can also spiral even further out of control once hackers start testing leaked passwords and email addresses on other platforms.
This is the reason why we always tell readers to never, ever recycle their passwords under any circumstances. Once your email address and password get leaked in a data breach, you can bet that hackers will try the same combination out on other websites just to see if it works.
Thankfully, one cybersecurity researcher is keeping tally for some of the biggest data breaches in internet history. In his online database, he’s categorized nearly 10 billion stolen records — and to help victims protect themselves, he’s letting you check to see if your data has been “pwned.” Here’s how you can check for yourself.
HaveIBeenPwned nears 10 billion records of stolen data
Data breaches can be catastrophic in terms of the damage they wreak, and many times, people don’t even know that their information is affected. This is because most of the leaked data that’s used gets sold on shady Dark Web marketplaces where hackers can buy them for pennies on the dollar.
And once the data is in a hacker’s hands, they’ll usually try the username and password combination elsewhere to gain more leverage or money from their victims.
But in the face of so many dangerous cybersecurity threats, one man continues to document and expose these hackers’ efforts in action. Security researcher Troy Hunt is the owner and operator of HaveIBeenPwned, a free service that will tell you whether or not your information has been exposed in a data breach (or sold on the Dark Web).
Here’s how his service works: Visitors can simply enter their email address in the search bar and hit the button labeled “pwned?” The website then gets to work alerting you of any data breaches your information may have been a part of — right down to the specific incidents.
And you’re going to need HaveIBeenPwned now more than ever. Another massive data breach has just been detected on a hacker forum featuring a whopping 132,957,579 records!
Huge data breach on multiple platforms
According to new reports from Bleeping Computer, 14 separate databases of stolen data have gone up for sale on the Dark Web in recent days. The platforms these entries belong to are varied in function and scope and run the gamut from online food delivery to fashion.
Of the 14, only three have been confirmed to have actually been hacked thus far. But assuming the worst, in this case, is a proactive way to protect your information.
To see if your data was affected, visit HaveIBeenPwned. This will take you to Hunt’s website, where you can enter your email address to check if your account has been included in any recent breaches. If you’ve been affected by any data breach whatsoever, you should immediately change your email password. If you share that password with any other online accounts, hackers have a perfect opportunity to attack you across the web.
You may also want to consider setting up two-factor authentication for all of your most frequently used accounts.
In the end, it’s up to you to take security into your own hands and frequently change your passwords. While heroes like Hunt are out there keeping people informed, they’re few and far between, and relying on them completely can give a false sense of security. If you’re proactive, you’ll be doing more to defend your data than waiting for the next big breach.