Saturday , November 26 2022

Yet another data breach: Is your password on the dark web now?

See if your email addresses and passwords have been compromised with Google’s Password Checkup and Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor.

There are things you can do to protect yourself if your passwords have been stolen.

Stock-trading app Robinhood announced Monday that a Nov. 3 data breach had leaked the personal information of 7 million customers. The compromised data was mostly email addresses. But according to a press release, names, dates of birth, ZIP codes and “more extensive account details” were leaked for a small subset of users as well. Robinhood, which was best known before the leak for its role in the GameStop meme stock saga, is only the latest data breach victim, in a long list of companies that seems to grow every week. That means if your personal information hasn’t been stolen yet, it probably will be someday. Or maybe it has been, but you just don’t know about it — yet.

If your personal data has been compromised, you often won’t learn about it until T-Mobile, Facebook, Marriott, DoorDash, LinkedIn or any other company you’ve trusted with your information notifies you about a data breach. By that time your birthday, Social Security number, credit card number, health records or other data will have already been exposed or stolen. 

Any stolen personal information that leads data thieves to your identity can let hackers do everything from making purchases and opening up credit accounts in your name, to filing for your tax refunds and making medical claims, all posing as you. What’s worse, billions of these hacked login credentials are available on the dark web, neatly packaged for hackers to easily download for free.

Read more: 14 of the worst data leaks, breaches, scrapes and security snafus in the last decade

You can’t stop sites getting hacked, but you can take a few steps to check if your information may be compromised and to limit the damage done from a breach. If you use a password manager that creates unique passwords, you can ensure that if one site gets breached, your stolen password won’t give hackers access to your accounts on other sites. A good password manager can also help you manage all your login information, making it easy to create and then use unique passwords.

After a cyberattack, a couple of monitoring tools can alert you to which of your stolen credentials are out in the wild on the dark web, giving you a running start at limiting the damage the thieves can do. Here’s how to use two free monitoring tools — Google’s Password Checkup and Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor — to see which of your email addresses and passwords are compromised, so you can take action.

As part of its password manager service, Google offers the free Password Checkup tool, which monitors usernames and passwords you use to sign into sites outside of Google’s domain and notifies you if those login credentials have been exposed. (You may remember Password Checkup when it was a Chrome extension you had to add separately to Google’s browser. This is the same tool folded into Google’s password manager.)

Google’s Password Checkup finds a few password problems.

1. If you use Google’s password service to keep track of your login credentials in Chrome or Android, head to Google’s password manager site and tap Go to Check passwords.

2. Tap Check Passwords and verify it’s you.

3. Enter the password for your Google account.

4. After thinking for a bit, Google will display any issues it’s found, including compromised, reused and weak passwords.

5. Next to each reused or weak password is a Change password button you can tap to pick a more secure one.

Mozilla’s free Firefox Monitor service helps you track which of your email addresses have been part of known data breaches. 

1. To start, head to the Firefox Monitor page.

Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor identified 4 breaches for this email.

2. Enter an email address and tap Check for Breaches. If the email was part of a known breach since 2007, Monitor will show you which hack it was part of and what else may have been exposed.

3. Below a breach, tap More about this breach to see what was stolen and what steps Mozilla recommends, such as updating your password.

You can also sign up to have Monitor notify you if your email is involved in a future data breach. Monitor scans your email address against those found data breaches and alerts you if you were involved. 

1. Near the bottom of the Firefox Monitor page, tap the Sign up for Alerts button.

2. If you need to, create a Firefox account.

3. Tap Sign in to see a breach summary for your email. 

4. At the bottom of the page, you can add additional email addresses to monitor. Mozilla will then send you an email at each address you add with a subject line “Firefox Monitor found your info in these breaches” when it finds that email address involved in a breach, along with instructions about what to do about following the breach.

Besides the tools from Mozilla and Google, you can take a few additional steps to watch for fraud.

Monitor your credit reports. To help you spot identity theft early, you request one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to check for unfamiliar activity, such as a new account you didn’t open. (Note that Equifax was itself part of a massive data breach.) You should also check your credit card and bank statements for unexpected charges and payments. Unexpected charges can be a sign that someone has access to your account.

Sign up for a credit monitoring service. To take a more active hand in watching for fraud, sign up with a credit monitoring service that constantly monitors your credit report on major credit bureaus and alerts when it detects unusual activity. With a monitoring service, you can set fraud alerts that notifies you if someone is trying to use your identity to create credit. A credit reporting service like LifeLock can cost $9 to $26 a month — or you could use a free service like the one from Credit Karma that will watch for credit fraud but not ID fraud, such as someone trying to use your Social Security number.

For more on how to keep your data secure, see our guides on how to protect your phone’s privacy, the best VPN services of 2021, and why you should never trust a free VPN.

This Article was first published on cnet.com

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