Last week was not a great week for social media sites and personal security. After it was reported that more than 533 million Facebook accounts had been made available online comes the news that another 500 million LinkedIn account details have been found online. These are some pretty scary numbers that will likely affect most of us.
However, there is a difference between these two data leaks that the ordinary data hacks we’ve seen in the past and that is that they weren’t hacks. There was no unauthorised entry into a secure system where data was stolen at all. No, rather both of these latest leaks came from a process known as scraping, where bots simply searched profiles of users on both these sites, looked for information like emails, contact numbers and any other useful information and then wrote them into a table where they were then posted online. Yes, it means no personal information relating to credit cards or ID numbers was found, but people will likely feel compromised nonetheless that certain “contact information” is now in the public domain (though in truth, it always was)
So essentially, all these so-called “hackers” did, is take information that was already in the public domain in some form or another and put it in an easy to find location where they can be exploited. A similar issue which affected another app in the form of Clubhouse over the weekend too. All this essentially shines a new light not just on cyber security, but on cyber privacy too.
What this means is that firstly we as users need to be more careful with the information, we allow to be displayed through these social media platforms. While they may need an email address to register you can hide this information from the public eyes and its possibly best hat you do so.
Secondly, it means that these sites need to do better in ensuing that details cannot be made visible without some approval from the users to another user or possibly even preventing any form of browser having access to these fields sot that they cannot simply be copied and pasted form the site.
For now, though, it might be best to take matters into your own hand and do your best to ensure you don’t have too much personal information lying around on social media sites until companies find a better way of dealing with these sorts of attacks.
Last Updated: April 13, 2021