Once again, Facebook finds itself under hot waters and its privacy guidelines come under intense scrutiny. Can we say we’re surprised?
Facebook isn’t new to mishandling user data. The company has faced several data breaches, affecting billions of users over the past decade. This time, more than half a billion users are a victim to a data leak that includes their full names, birthdays, phone numbers and location.
A Breakdown of Facebook Data Leak
The leaked data of 533 million users is publicly available on a hacking forum.
|Indian users||6 million users affected|
|US users||32 million users affected|
|UK users||11 million users affected|
Facebook argues that the massive data leak was initially leaked in 2019 and is only publicly available now on the hacking forum. What’s shocking is that the data leak is available at dirt cheap rates.
Cybersecurity experts have called this data leak absolute negligence from Facebook. However, the social media giant argues that the data is old, and the issue was fixed in August 2019.
How to check if you’re affected
Although Facebook doesn’t make it any easier for you to figure out if you were ever a part of a data breach, third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, makes it relatively easier for you to figure it out via your email address.
The website can only find out if you were part of the data breach through your email address. If your email address was part of the data leak, then you’ll find out if you were affected. If your email address wasn’t compromised, there’s no way to figure it out.
Of the 533 million Facebook accounts affected by the data breach, only 2.5 million emails are a part of the stolen data. What this means is that you have a <0.5% chance of appearing on the website. At the same time, you have a nearly 20% chance of being a victim of the data breach.
Facebook’s argument of data being old doesn’t hold value as it’s not like the affectees were made aware, and their personal information probably remains the same. This means that the stolen data may still be valuable to hackers and cybercriminals who engage in identity theft.
Here’s how to check if your data has been compromised via Have I Been Pwned:
Step 1: Head over to a browser and type https://haveibeenpwned.com/
Step 2: Within the search bar on the website, type your email address linked to Facebook and press pwned?
The website will take a moment to analyze and let you know if your account was compromised in any data breach.
If your account was part of the data breach, you should immediately change your account password and enable security measures. If your account isn’t compromised, you shouldn’t get too excited. Make a habit of frequently updating your account password and implementing privacy measures for added security.
Is Mark Zuckerberg Using Signal?
Ironically, Mark Zuckerberg is also a victim of the data breach. Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook’s co-founder and current CEO is no stranger to the data leak. According to a report, his phone number has been compromised, and it appears that the number was registered to a Signal account.
In another turn of events, Mark Zuckerberg also respects his own privacy, by using a chat app that has end-to-end encryption and isn’t owned by @facebook— Dave Walker (@Daviey) April 4, 2021
This is the number associated with his account from the recent facebook leak. https://t.co/AXbXrF4ZxE
Could this mean that Mark Zuckerberg relies on Signal’s privacy algorithms for secure communications, or was he testing out the app? While we don’t know for sure, one can assume that Signal does offer superior privacy than Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
How to Keep Your Facebook Account Safe
Data breaches and leaks are here to stay, and they will only get worse with time. However, the security of your online accounts relies solely on you. Here are the ways to beef up your online safety on Facebook:
1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (TFA or 2FA). Either add your phone number or third-party authenticator applications such as Google Authenticator.
2. Be vigilant on social platforms and don’t believe something if it’s too good to be true. Avoid clicking on links via messages or emails from unknown individuals.
Timeline of Facebook’s Data Breaches
Here’s a timeline of Facebook’s data breaches:
|2013||6 million users|
|May 2018||14 million users|
|September 2018||50 million users|
|March 2019||600 million users|
|April 2019||540 million users|
|September 2019||419 million users|
|December 2019||309 million users|
One thing is clear, your online data at Facebook or any other social media platform is equally vulnerable and has been possibly breached at least once. With over 2.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, more than a billion users have fallen victim to data breaches. This goes to show that your data is not safe with Facebook.