It hasn't been a good year for Facebook. As well as the recent damaging allegations from a whistleblower, there was the highly embarrassing reveal of a major Facebook Data Leak. To recap: over 530 million Facebook users' data, from over 100 countries, was leaked online. This data included names, phone numbers, email addresses and account IDs.
But, as seems typical of Facebook, they decided that they weren't going make the effort to tell individual users whether they have been affected (via NPR). So how do you know whether your data is secure? And what can you do to protect your data? That's what we'll be looking at today.
Is My Personal Information Secure?
As noted above, Facebook won't tell you if your data was compromised during the Facebook data leak. Facebook has roughly 2.89 billion active users worldwide. 3.51 billion, when you include other Facebook-owned products, such as WhatsApp and Instagram. 530 million represents a significant proportion of those users, but still less than twenty percent.
The fact that emails addresses and phone numbers are involved, is undeniably a cause for concern. In the wrong hands, this information can be used by fraudsters, to perform a variety of nefarious deeds. These range from sending you emails, encouraging you to click links to steal more information, to identity theft, or to try and hack other accounts. If they are able to access your Facebook account, then potentially any data that you have on Facebook would be available to them.
Facebook isn't renowned for its security. So what can you, to try and best protect your data? We'll discuss that next.
What can I do to Protect My Data?
Visit HaveIBeenPwned.com to find out whether your data is vulnerable. This website is run by highly-respected security analyst and Microsoft Regional Director Troy Hunt. Simply enter your email address or phone number, and the site will quickly tell you if your details have been compromised.
If they have, there are some steps you can take in order to protect your data:
- Start by changing your password on your Facebook account. This is especially important if it's easy to guess, or you use it on other websites as well.
- You can also enable 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) which gives you additional security. An authenticator app is usually better than SMS.
- You can choose to receive alerts about unauthorised log-ins through your security settings.
- Password manager apps can also help you to create and store strong passwords, and will tell you if you have duplicate passwords which you need to change. Popular ones include LastPass, Keeper, and 1password.
- A final option, and one that most people are unlikely to use, is to simply delete your social media accounts.
These steps will help you to protect your data. But ultimately, you will always be reliant to an extent, on how good the security is at the other end. It will be up to you as an individual, to decide how much of yourself you are willing to risk putting online.