Despite the fact that a database containing personal information scraped from Facebook on over half a billion people has appeared on the internet and is available for anyone with a modicum of technical skill, Facebook doesn’t appear to be concerned at all, dismissing this particular news with a hand wave, “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019…We found and fixed this issue in August 2019,” per email statement sent to the Associated Press. And it seems they have good reason to downplay this “old news” as its stock hits a record high despite facing news that would be catastrophic for just about any other company. Unfortunately for us, this issue they “fixed” in 2019 might have been any number of security problems they had in that year, and yes, this database may be an amalgamation of several breaches. Which doesn’t make it any better.
What this means for you
To put this in perspective, here is a visualization of just how big a number 533,000,000 actually is:
The above is just the first of 4 slides so click through for other 3 slides – it’s worth a look. The amount of data leaked is larger than the population of the USA. Unfortunately for the world, the leaks seems to have been global in scale, affecting 106 countries in total and over 32 million Americans. On a personal level, the data contains information that would be classified as Personally Identifiable Information including names, physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. This is enough info to put your identity at serious risk (if it wasn’t already before) for theft, and as such, at minimum you should be putting a freeze on your credit reports. This leak may also pose a risk for anyone who has a need to keep such data private, such as celebrities, or abuse/stalking victims, or just your regular social media user who had no idea their “personal” information could be made so widely available.
Seeing as Facebook does not seem to be taking any sort of ownership on this, you will have to rely on third-party site HaveIBeenPwned.com to see if you were one of the 533 million affected by this latest leak. At this point, even if you weren’t affected by this particular breach, I can almost guarantee that if your email address is more than year old, you are likely still going to find yourself on that site. You can also check at this newer site by phone number, just to cover all the bases.
Some of us maintain Facebook accounts because we have to, but if you aren’t using it anymore or want to stop using it because this was the last straw, you can delete your account here: https://www.facebook.com/help/224562897555674. On top of this, you should be:
- Using two-factor authentication for all your important email, financial and work-related accounts,
- Backing up your data to the cloud via a reputable platform like BackBlaze, Carbonite or iDrive
- Using unique, complex passwords for everything, and
- Managing those passwords through a like LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane or Roboform.
Oh, and you put a freeze on your credit reports, right?
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay