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Facebook data breach: here is what has happened and how you can check whether you are safe

There has been a huge data leakage of Facebook users online and personal information data of about 533 million users has been leaked online. This data consisted of users’ contact numbers, birthdates, Facebook IDs, and other things. Even the CEO of the social media app Mark Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes were also affected and it was reported that the contact number of Mark Zuckerberg was also leaked online. According to a report by Business Insider, more than 3.2 crore users in the United States, 1.1 crores users in the United Kingdom, and about 6 million users in India have had their data about their personal information leaked. Alon Gal who is a security expert had reported this facebook data leakage on Twitter saying that all the records of about 533 million users were leaked for free meaning that if you have got a Facebook account, there are high chances that your account information has been leaked. Chief technology officer of the cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock Alon Gal explained what exactly did this data included in the breach. He mentioned mostly there was a phone number, their location, birthdate, Facebook ID, full name, past location, account creation date, email address (only sometimes), Relationship Status, and bio of the users that was leaked in the recent breach. He informed that this information can be used by these cyber criminals for marketing, scamming, hacking and social engineering.


It is becoming clearer to everyone that it is not some new breach attack that has happened, but it is linked to an older attack that has found its way back to Facebook and its huge userbase who can now make purchases online. This attack sounds so much similar to what happened in the case of the PayID attack that happened in the year 2019 and the Cambridge Analytical scandal which took place in the year 2018. These breaches have been only possible with the method of acquiring data through the misusage of the legitimate functions of the Facebook systems. These were not considered as hacking, per se, because it was simply just a misuse of the legitimate function of the Facebook platform. However, these did lead to the passage of the users’ personal information to a third party without their proper consent.


How To Find Out If Your Data Has Been Leaked
Of course, there are ways that you can find out whether or not you have been leaked. There are a few sites that tell you if your account details have been leaked online or not. One of those sites is haveibeenpwned.com. All you have to do is go on the site, put in the email id linked to your particular Facebook account and the site will tell you whether or not your data has been leaked in the recent breach, the site will also tell you whether your data has been ever leaked in any of the breaches. Currently, you can only know about this information on this site by providing your email address but the creator of the website Troy Hunt has been planning a way to know about this information by just adding your mobile number as well.

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What Can This Breach Lead To?
It has been reported that only a small number of email addresses have been leaked which is about 2.5 million. It is important to note that when the email address is absent, the data is considered not that valuable, mainly because it is the combination of the full name, phone number, date of birth, and email address that becomes a starting point for something called as identity theft and exploitation. The creator of Haveibeenpwned.com has mentioned that these data could be used by these cybercriminals in terms of secondary use to develop phishing and spam attacks that are going to be SMS-based.


What Can You Do To Protect Your Data?
Now we can not say that it is the users’ fault or that they could have done something to protect their data more effectively because given the nature of the breach, it was entirely up to Facebook to keep the data secured and protected it its system as the attack was on the Facebook systems. But when we talk about in terms of users, for most of us there is an option of not opting to be in the particular social media but obviously, it is easier said than done so what can be done is that there many changes that you can put in in terms of your social media behavior and the information that you put in your profile.


1. Number one being your decision of choosing to share all of your information with Facebook. Because if you think about it, when you create your account you are given an option of adding your phone number (for security purpose which is a big irony considering the current situation), so at this time you choose to withhold giving out too much information that can cause you too much later on.


2. Then comes thinking about what you are sharing on your profile. Now when we say that, what we mean is let’s say you have put in the wrong date of birth to protect your data but if you are going to be posting a picture of your birthday, you would have to make sure that it aligns with the data you have provided. Your seemingly innocent pictures also can be responsible for the leakage of information that you do not wish to share.


3. Avoid using Facebook to link to other social media because, at times like these when your information is by chance leaked by Facebook, they will get access to your other social media as well.
4. Use different and unique passwords for all your social media because when one gets leaked, there will be fewer chances that the cybercriminals will be able to get access to your other social media accounts as well.

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