How can you hope to protect the login and password information to your banking, credit card, and other crucial websites when your personal data is being stolen wholesale from big corporate and Government databases you have no control over?
With the Equifax hack still in the news, many of us are wondering “how can I tell if my personal info has been stolen in a hack?”
Use a “data breach” website
You can check when and where you may have been hacked at data breach websites. These sites are set up by researchers and cyber-security specialists enabling you to search securely through all the personal information stolen by hackers during a data breach. Hackers typical post this stolen data to the Dark Web, to online forums, or offer it for sale on the Internet. Using a data breach site helps you quickly see if any of your online credentials have been stolen and offered for sale.
You can use that information proactively to update compromised passwords on your online accounts. The idea is to catch it early before hackers can use your stolen information to access your accounts.
Any Internet search along the lines of “has my email been leaked” will list hundreds of data breach websites. However, not all sites claiming to be data breach websites are safe to use. Some are run by hackers who just want to collect your email addresses or other login info and use them to phish you in the future.
We have made a list of three reliable and proven data breach websites run by reputable researchers:
The free site: “Have I Been Pwned?”
So, what does that word “Pwned” mean? To quote Lifewire:
“Pwned is commonly used as a gloating expression like ‘to be dominated’ or ‘to be controlled against your will’, or ‘defeated by a superior power’.
“Have I Been Pwned” is one of the oldest and probably the best site for checking if your information has been stolen. Troy Hunt is a well-known and well-respected technologist who spends a considerable amount of time sifting through alleged stolen data, verifying the data is real, tracks down where it came from, and makes it available for all of us to search through.
When you enter the website, you will see a search bar, some interesting data breach statistics, and a list of recent data breaches. The screen shot of the website below was taken on September 20, 2017.
Type one of your emails or usernames that you use into the text box, click the "pwned?" button, and see if it appears in any personal information stolen from companies and governments.
I put in one of my usernames and got an “all clear” result:
- How about a less common username I have?
Another free site: “Has My Email Been Hacked?”
And a free/paid site: “Breach Alarm”
Well that’s disappointing…
Luckily, I knew about this one when it happened and changed my password (and user name) so no one could use the information against me. To help you be proactive, the site has a "Notify Me" option that automatically emails you if you or any family members are compromised in the future. You will get a message in your inbox as soon as “Have I Been Pwned” posts newly exposed data hacks that contains an email address registered in their database.
There is even a section on “Have I Been Pwned” that allows you to search for “sensitive breaches” of any personal information on more risqué websites (think “Ashley Madison” – a data breach that even has its own Wikipedia page). As “Have I Been Pwned” says:
“certain breaches are particularly sensitive in that someone's presence in the breach may adversely impact them if others are able to find that they were a member of the site. These breaches are classed as 'sensitive' and may not be publicly searched. A sensitive data breach can only be searched by the verified owner of the email address being searched for.”
This site is dedicated to finding hacked email accounts and values anonymity. Check out the Chrome plugin that uses this service to tell if an email you are using (or sending to) has been compromised by a data breach.
Finally, there is free/paid site worth checking out called “BreachAlarm”. It’s free for monitoring breaches against a single email address and offers paid plans for businesses and large families (or groups) that offer cybersecurity details about breaches in ways that may matter to a company.
Data breaches are becoming more common and it's never been more important to have a cybersecurity strategy in place for both your personal and business data. Amaxra has cybersecurity experts with experience securing your business-critical data whether it's stored in the cloud or locally on your laptop.
Want to learn how we can protect your business against hack attacks?