Data breaches are scary enough as it is, but thankfully, they’re usually limited in scope and scale. The information found in a breach depends on the platform that leaked it, which is why data points like email addresses, phone numbers and passwords are so common.
But what if a data breach happened that contained even more sensitive data. We’re talking items like personal addresses, interactions with others and networks of friends. At this point, a leak like that looks more like doxxing than a data breach. Tap or click here to see how to protect yourself from doxxing and online harassment.
Well, this exact scenario has happened — thanks to an unprecedented leak of personal data posted to a cloud server. Nobody knows where it came from, and the data it contains is so personal that some fear it could put people in danger. Here’s what we know, as well as how you can find out if your information was leaked.
A spooky breach from an unknown source
An enormous 90GB trove of data has been discovered on an unsecured cloud server, and nobody knows where it came from! According to reports from Troy Hunt of HaveIBeenPwned.com, the breach contains a startling amount of personal data, including descriptions of meetings, contacts and locations.
I’m trying to trace down the origin of a *massive* breach someone sent me. Looks very much like a data aggregator but I can’t attribute it. Came from a cloud hosted IP so no clues there. My own data is there, anyone see any clues indicating the source? https://t.co/GHBoWN93Fy— Troy Hunt (@troyhunt) February 23, 2020
The breach was initially discovered in late February, and since then, Hunt has not found any leads on the source. After diving deeper into the data, he even found descriptions of legal cases and their outcomes, including how they relate to the names in the database. Tap or click here to see how breaches have even affected platforms like Facebook.
Here are just a few samples of the data contained in the breach. You won’t believe just how personal it gets:
- “Recommended by Andie [redacted last name]. Arranged for carpenter apprentice Devon [redacted last name] to replace bathroom vanity top at [redacted street address], Vancouver, on 02 October 2007. “
- ” Met at the 6th National Pro Bono Conference in Ottawa in September 2016 “
- ” Met on 15-17 October 2001 in Vancouver for the Luscar/Obed/Coal Valley arbitration. “
- “CASE CLOSING SUMMARY ON USA V. [redacted]” and “10/3/11 detention hrg in court 20 min plus travel split with [redacted]”
Why is this information just being reported today if it’s been known about since February? The answer lies, once again, with Troy Hunt. Today marks the moment when he finished compiling all the breached data into his website. Now, anyone can search through HaveIBeenPwned and verify if their information was affected.
In addition, he appears to be letting his investigation go, and has no major leads to the source or reason behind the breach. It just gets creepier and creepier.
Where did this data come from and how can I protect myself?
Although the exact source of the data is unknown, Hunt is pretty sure he knows what kind of platform hosted it originally: a CRM system. CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Manager,” and this type of software is used across the business world by salespeople and professionals alike.
Given the legal references and meeting statements, we’d assume this CRM was owned and operated by a lawyer or law firm originally. Whether the information was hacked or casually hosted with no protection remains unknown, but at the very least, we’re grateful someone like Hunt got to it first before hackers had a chance to make the most of it.
To see if your data was affected, all you need to do is click here to visit HaveIBeenPwned. This will take you to Hunt’s website, where you can enter your email address to check if your account has been included in the breach. If it has, you’ll see a subtitle “db8151dd,” which notes the breach you see here.
If you’ve been affected by a data breach (and not just this one, since HaveIBeenPwned listed multiple breaches), you should immediately change your email password. If you share that password with any other online accounts, hackers have a perfect opportunity to attack you.
You may also want to consider setting up two-factor authentication for all of your most frequently used accounts. Tap or click here to see how to set up 2FA.
Ultimately, you must take your security into your own hands and frequently change your passwords. As Hunt says in his post, there is “nothing that can be done” at this point to stop the breach. Protecting yourself by being proactive is quite literally your best option.