Facebook Data Leak: Is Your Information on the Dark Web?

Facebook Data Leak: Is Your Information on the Dark Web?

facebook dark web: Any time that we share our private information online, we risk it ending up in the wrong hands. This statement has been proven time and time again, most recently as Facebook announced that the personal details of 500 million global users were leaked online through a large-scale data breach.

While Facebook announced the news in early April, they assured users that the user information was old and was leaked through a security bug that was discovered and patched in 2019. This does little to reassure the millions of users whose information — including names, phone numbers, email addresses, account IDs, and bios — could now be used against them or sold by cybercriminals on the dark web.

All Facebook users are being urged to check if their data has been infiltrated using security software including dark web monitoring.

What is the dark web?

Why would I need dark web monitoring? And what even is the dark web?

The internet is actually divided into three separate ‘layers’ — the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. Most internet users access both the surface web and the deep web on a daily basis. The surface web contains standard websites such as Google and Buzzfeed. The deep web, on the other hand, can be thought of as any website that sits behind a password. This includes your online banking account and streaming subscriptions that sit behind a paywall.

The dark web exists on a completely separate server to both the deep and surface webs. In order to access the dark web, you need to download special software known as the ‘Tor’ browser. Websites on the dark web are not indexed in the same way that regular websites are and users are completely anonymous, meaning that cybercriminals often use dark web forums and sites to conduct illegal activities — including the sale of personal data.

Once information is on the dark web it is very hard to have it removed, which is why dark web monitoring is so important. Being aware of where your information has been posted can help you make informed decisions to further protect your online privacy.

Steps to protect your information online

In the case of the Facebook data breach, it can seem like there is very little that individuals can do to protect themselves online. While this is partly true — it is not within our power to prevent large-scale data breaches from occurring — there are still many steps that you can take to protect your information online.

Aside from investing in dark web monitoring, always be sure to:
  • Practise good password security: One of the easiest ways that hackers can use a situation like the Facebook data breach to enact real damage is by combining your email with commonly used passwords to try and hack into other online accounts. If your banking password is something like ‘abc123’, you could be handing your entire life-savings over to criminals on a silver platter. Always be sure to use strong, secure passwords and never use the same password for more than one account.
  • Secure your online accounts: Many websites offer two-factor authentication (2FA) as a way of further securing your online accounts. 2FA means that you not only need to provide your username and password but also a separate code that can only be accessed via your phone, email, or through an authentication app. Should a cybercriminal happen to have your username and password, they will still be prevented from accessing your personal information.
  • Be sensible on social media: Social media is a great platform for sharing with friends and family. However, it is always wise to exercise a certain degree of caution when posting online. Avoid sharing personal information that includes your date of birth, location, or employment history. Always check with friends and family before posting photos of them online and set your accounts to private to prevent strangers accessing your information and photos.
  • Use security software: Security software is constantly evolving, in-line with the strategies of cybercriminals. Using software that has the ability to detect and defend against viruses, malware, phishing, and hacking, is non-negotiable for all internet users.

Cybercriminals show no signs of slowing down when it comes to taking advantage of unsuspecting users and large organisations with poor internet security protocols. It’s our job to stay one step ahead at all times — your privacy depends on it!

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