Keeping our personal data out of the hands of cyberciminals is a constant battle. That's why it's terrifying when we find out about massive data breaches like the ones recently reported dealing with Yahoo user accounts.
Hackers are usually to blame when our information gets exposed online. However, there are times when people divulge private data without knowing they're doing so. That's happening right now with millions of Microsoft documents and your information could be taken by anyone.
How your personal information could be exposed
What we're talking about is Microsoft's document sharing site Docs.com. We've recently discovered that if you or anyone that you know is using the site, there's a great chance your personal information is available for anyone to see.
That's because, for some inexplicable reason, the default setting on all accounts is to publicly share your documents. Anyone who logs into the site can use its search function to scour through millions of documents posted by unsuspecting users. It's quite amazing some of the personal information that you can find.
I logged into the site and searched for "resume" and over 9,000 results showed up. I was able to click on those resumes and see the user's name, address, phone number, work history, education and more. Not only was the users' information available but I could also see their references' names and phone numbers. Unbelievable!
You won't just find resumes either. Any document that is on the site can be found through a quick search. Divorce complaint forms, marriage licenses, bankruptcy documents and even tax returns were easily found with a keyword search.
What you need to do
If you use Docs.com you need to immediately log into your account and change its default setting! Here are the steps to change the setting:
- Click here to go to Docs.com
- Log into the site
- Tap the gear button located next to your name in the upper-right corner
- Select Settings
- Uncheck the box under the "Content I like" section next to "Allow everyone to see documents and collections you like"
Here is what the settings page looks like. Notice the box next to "Allow everyone to see documents and collections you like" is checked, as this is the default setting:
Image: Example of settings page on Docs.com
If you don't think changing this default setting is secure enough, you can delete your account from the same settings page. If you decide to delete your Docs.com account, your page on the site and all content that is associated with it will be permanently deleted.
Make sure to tell your family and friends about this privacy issue as well. No one wants their personal information made public without consent.