November 1, 2022

Why should I care about a data breach?

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On April 3rd the IDs, names, linked phone numbers, emails and birthdates of 533 million Facebook users were released on a dark web hacking forum. While leaks happen all the time, this incident is notable because of those affected. There are 25.5 million Facebook users in Canada and of note, 11.8%, or 3 million people, are aged 65 or above. 

Why Does it matter?

Criminals use leaked information such as phone numbers and emails in sophisticated phishing attacks to gain access to accounts, networks, and sensitive information. Data leaks can happen to anyone, however seniors have been a particularly vulnerable community to the follow on scams and phishing attacks. Social media leaks create additional unique risks. In some cases, they can lead to a profile takeover, and the compromised account can then be used to target and exploit the individual’s connected network of friends and contacts. 

Protecting Your Family

There are several actions that you can take to protect yourself, as well as potentially vulnerable friends and family members you may be connected with from the Facebook data breach:

  1. Check to see if you or your family members’ information has been involved in data leaks by using the website Immediately change the password for any compromised account.
  2. Use strong and unique passwords for social media and other sensitive accounts such as online banking so that a breach on one platform doesn’t threaten the safety of another.
  3. Set up two-factor authentication for accounts, wherever possible.
  4. Warn your parents, grandparents, and children against taking social media quizzes that may seem harmless and fun but can be used to collect data for hackers.
  5. Check your privacy settings and minimize the amount of personal information publicly available online such as family members’ names, phone numbers and locations.
  6. Encourage family members, particularly victims of a breach, to stay vigilant about suspicious links, emails, or messages that are sent to them. If you receive one from someone in your network advise them of a potential compromise.

The internet and social media are great tools to stay connected with family and friends.  However they can also create vulnerabilities when a member’s data is leaked. The Facebook breach is an unfortunate event but a good opportunity to have a conversation with potentially vulnerable family members about cyber safety and to encourage them to take actions to protect themselves and their network.

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