Major global data breach: Check if your passwords are compromised

  • A major data breach was discovered last night, with a total of 773 million unique email addresses and over 22 million unique passwords released to the public. Check if your email address is on the list to see if your passwords may be compromised.

    In today's increasingly digital age, we rely on internet security to keep our personal information and financial details safe while shopping, banking, or just socialising. No matter how secure the websites you deal with are, the weak link in the system for most users will usually be their choice of passwords and whether those passwords are re-used on multiple websites.

    Hackers now routinely buy and sell databases of known email addresses and their associated passwords, which are usually stolen in hacks on smaller websites such as forums and small businesses that may not be keeping their security up to date. If you re-used the same or a similar password on another website such as Paypal or an email service, your accounts on those sites would then be compromised too.

    Last night saw the announcement of another major data breach as one of these massive password databases used by hackers has been released to the public. Cyber security expert Troy Hunt initially flagged the breach, which he calls the "Collection #1" Data Breach, when he was sent a tipoff about the database of almost 2.7 billion individual records being hosted on cloud service MEGA. He then processed the list and verified that it contains 773 million unique email addresses and at least 21 million unique known passwords. 

    To check whether your passwords may have been compromised in this breach, you can enter your email address into Troy Hunt's secure "Have I Been Pwned?" website. The website also contains a secure service that you can use to check if a specific password has been compromised. To keep your passwords from falling into the wrong hands though, the advice is simple: Use a reputable password manager service and generate a unique and random password for each website.

    Source: Have I Been Pwned?

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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