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Cyberattacks and data leaks are quite common these days. Cybercriminals keep finding new ways to gain access to various accounts and steal or misuse sensitive data.
Cybersecurity is one of the top concerns among individuals and various organizations, but not everyone is doing something about it. Many people don’t protect their login credentials, but that’s not the only problem. One of the major issues is that many online platforms do not protect their users’ data as well as they should.
Take a look at some recent breaches that caused massive leaks, and find out how you can protect your data and accounts.
Recent Massive Data Leaks
The biggest public data breach that occurred recently is the so-called Collection #1. The data dump of more than 12000 files amounting to 87 GB of memory contains email addresses and passwords from thousands of different sources.
The breach leaked 772,904,991 email addresses, and 21,222,975 passwords. Troy Hunt, a security researcher who discovered the breach, uploaded all the leaked data onto his site. According to him, the data comes from more than 2,000 different sources.
Another recent data breach led to more than 5 million passport numbers being stolen from Marriott, an international chain of hotels.
Facebook also revealed a huge mistake that exposed millions of passwords, although there wasn’t a data breach. Facebook stored hundreds of millions of users’ passwords as plaintext but says that no one outside of Facebook had access to them. Twitter and GitHub also reported making the same mistake.
How to Check If You Were Affected?
You can check if any of your email addresses have been compromised in a data breach by visiting the site Have I Been Pwned. Simply type your email address in the box, and search the database.
You can also find out if any of your passwords have been leaked. The Pwned Passwords feature is built into the same site, so click on it and enter your password to see if it’s indexed.
If you find any of your passwords on the site, make sure you stop using it. Change the affected passwords immediately, and come up with something strong that’s impossible to guess.
A complex password contains both upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Most importantly, it doesn’t include your personal information or anything else that someone could easily guess.
When changing your passwords, make sure you don’t reuse the same one. If you have trouble remembering them, put them on paper. Never store them on your devices.
Start Using a Password Manager
This is one of the best ways to protect your passwords. It’s especially useful if you have a lot of different accounts, and you can’t remember all your login credentials.
A password manager will store all your passwords in one place, but a master password and encryption will protect them. If anyone happens to crack the master password, many password managers will automatically change all your other passwords, preventing anyone from accessing your accounts.
Password managers also come with an automatic password changer, so that you can change your passwords frequently with a single click. They also send you alerts regarding any kind of breach on any site you use.
Even if you choose not to use a password manager, be sure to change all your passwords frequently.
Protect Your Connections with a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will give you an extra layer of security. VPNs create safe and encrypted connections that safeguard all your data. Once you turn on your VPN, it will hide your IP address, and encrypt your entire online activity. Not even your ISP will be able to locate you and log your connection.
Since it makes you anonymous online, it fully protects you against any potential cybersecurity threat. Cybercriminals cannot target you for any kind of attack or scam, and they cannot steal or misuse your data.
VPNs also encrypt public WiFi connections and come with plenty more features for enhancing your online security.
Combining a VPN with a password manager is definitely one of the best things you can do for your data security. Both come with advanced encryptions, and other excellent features, so make sure to get them. Some password managers come with a built-in VPN, but you can get one separately as well.
Cybersecurity is a major concern nowadays, but taking the steps mentioned above will help you protect yourself online. Unfortunately, data breaches will undoubtedly continue to occur. But if you do everything you can to safeguard your private and sensitive information, potential breaches won’t affect you in any way.