Is Anything Really Safe In The Virtual World We’ve Created?

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By Jessica Lang, Kaizen

Cyber-security is a topic that can only increase in discussion, as more of our personal data is uploaded online. With the non-stop news of hacks, is anything really safe in the virtual world we’ve created?

Every day, billions of people around the world log in to multiple online accounts, often with the same email address and password combination. Yet, it only takes one of these accounts to be hit by a undercover hacker for all the user's personal data to be compromised, and perhaps impossible to recover. Some of the most prolific sites around have been hit by security breaches, including Yahoo!, Uber and Dropbox, and many others that we're probably not even aware of. In a new infographic (see below) by vpnMentor, you can take a look at the ten security breaches that hurt the most, accessing billions. Yahoo!’s data hack involved 3 billion accounts’ worth of data, including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and even, in some cases, security questions and answers.

The Companies That Let Us Down

When we sign up to these big-name companies, we expect them to take care of our data. A hack in itself seems like a breach of trust between us and the organisation, even if it was not their fault, but what about a cyber attack cover-up? Perhaps one of the most shocking hacks due to the attempted cover-up was the cyber attack against Uber, in which 57 million drivers and passengers’ details were compromised. Despite the hack taking place in 2016, it was only uncovered in November 2017, over a year later. Worryingly, instead of informing appropriate authorities, Uber concealed the attack and paid hackers $100,000 to keep it hidden.

A hack that could’ve easily affected you without you even being aware was the 2012 LinkedIn data breach of 117 million emails and passwords. The hack was only discovered four years after it occurred, and the data is being sold on the black market website ‘The Real Deal’. Like many of the larger hacks, the group or malware responsible has remained anonymous. The exceptions to this are the hacker ‘Peace’ who compromised over 65 million users on Tumblr, and then sold it on the black market for £103, and the hacking group ‘The Impact Team’ who conducted the infamous Ashley Madison breach, a site designed for users to organise affairs.

What Can You Do?

This new graphic from vpnMentor details the ten hacks that have affected nearly 5.4 billion accounts in the last five years. It also includes ten top tips for protecting your data, such as using a password strength tool, such as this one here, when selecting your password to ensure you are as secure as possible online.

It’s also a good idea to make regular checks of websites that track major hacks to see if your accounts may have been affected. Also, use two-factor authentication where possible, which is offered on sites like Facebook.

For more information on how you can protect your data, and to see if you’re likely to have been caught in one of the world’s biggest hacks, see the full infographic from vpnMentor below.