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Security & privacy

Facebook data breach: Millions of accounts exposed online

Facebook hasn’t had an easy year. In 2019 alone, it experienced data leaks, privacy scandals and website issues. Needless to say, the company isn’t faring so well with the general public. Now reports suggest its user base is declining, fleeing the venerable social network for greener pastures.

Of all the challenges Facebook has endured, data breaches are among the most damaging. These events put user data at risk and open them up to spam, identity theft and worse. Tap or click to learn more about how millions of user accounts were leaked by Facebook app developers.

And now, another breach has hit Facebook that puts hundreds of millions of users in harm’s way. An unsecured database created by hackers contained profile information for Facebook users across America — which points to an increase in spam and phishing attempts. We’ll show you how to protect yourself.

Hackers compile database of more than 200 million Facebook users

According to reports from Tom’s Guide, an enormous database containing approximately 267 million Facebook users was leaked online and on Dark Web hacker forums. This database was unsecured, and contained personal information like names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Digital forensics have determined the database was not created by Facebook, but by a third-party group based in Vietnam. Signs point to a hacking or cybercrime link, as the database follows a pattern established by previous data leaks from Facebook this year. Tap or click to learn more about the last leak.

The information compiled by these hackers wasn’t stolen from users so much as scraped — which means automated bots copied and pasted public-facing information on Facebook accounts to the database.

After being publicly exposed, the database disappeared from the web. Whether anyone accessed it for criminal activities in the time it was up is unknown, but it’s safe to assume the information was at least copied elsewhere.

Am I at risk? What can they do to me?

Since the database is gone, there’s no specific way to know whether you were included in the leak. But the information scraped into the database is all public-facing, with no passwords or usernames that could compromise your Facebook account.

Still, this database leak is bad for two other reasons: robocalls and phishing scams. Cybersecurity company Comparitech is advising Facebook users to expect an uptick in robocalls and text message phishing attempts in the coming years.

These kinds of threats are annoying, but ultimately harmless if you ignore them. Tap or click to learn how you can fight back against robocalls.

If you’re worried about this sort of thing happening in the future (and you should be), you can adjust your Facebook settings to stop third-parties from scraping the data.

Open your Facebook settings by clicking the dropdown arrow on the top right of the browser window, then click Privacy. Under “Privacy Settings and Tools,” change all settings and options from “Everyone” to “Friends.” This will make it so only your friends can see details about your page.

Just make sure you aren’t friends with any hackers. At that point, though, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

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