Tech

The Risks of Twitter’s Data Breach | What You Can Do to Protect Yourself?

Story Highlights
  • What Exactly Happened
  • Why Does It Matters Now?
  • Why Should You Care?
  • How Can You Stay Safe?

The internet is no stranger to data breaches. One such breach that occurred on Twitter a few months ago has recently gained great traction for a very concerning reason; the Leaked data is now being distributed. There is a lesson to be learned here for social media users and internet users in general.

What Exactly Happened

Twitter acknowledged earlier this year that 5.4 million users’ private data had been taken due to an API (Application Programming Interface) vulnerability. An API is a way for computer programs to communicate with one another. But the social media giant said there was “no evidence” that the vulnerability had been abused.

Why Does It Matter Now?

These accounts have all recently been made public on a hacker forum. Additionally, 1.4 million Twitter accounts of suspended users were reportedly shared anonymously. The same vulnerability may have also led to a broader data leak containing the personal information of tens of millions of other users.

The owner of the hacking site “Breached” claimed that it was his site that exploited the flaw (first discovered by another hacker going by the name of “Devil”) and dumped the user records. It claimed to have also received 1.4 million suspended Twitter profiles through a different API, but those were only distributed privately to a small group.

Why Should You Care?

Security expert Chad Loder has disclosed that the same API may have been used to gather tens of millions more Twitter records. The data collected may contain both public info and private phone numbers. Since Loder was just banned from Twitter for unspecified reasons, he shared a sample that had been censored on Mastodon. Bleeping Computer—a tech news provider—was informed that it might hold over 17 million records.

The hacks exposed private users’ email addresses and phone numbers, which may have been exploited for phishing (A type of software attack that may expose login credentials and credit card numbers) and other scams. Using that data to deduce identities from hidden Twitter accounts might be possible.

It must be taken into account that anyone can be affected by these data breaches, and thus it is necessary to exercise caution when surfing the internet.

How Can You Stay Safe?

Along with solid passwords with alphabets, numbers, and symbols, ensure that all your online accounts are protected by multi-factor authentication. A simple password is not enough to gain access; multiple forms of evidence must be provided to log in.

To the same effect, ensure you do not use the same password across multiple platforms. This may make your logins slower, but you need only do this once on your trusted devices, and this little bit of inconvenience can go a long way toward keeping your data secure.

Update your passwords regularly as well. You can also check if your data has become part of a breach through a website called “haveibeenpwned.com”. If you are using a website only once or for gaining access to something, instead of using your primary email, use Temp-mail. It is a service that will give you an email ID that will be deleted within 10 minutes. You will not have to worry about data breaches on that website.

Apart from this, pay great caution to the links you are clicking. Never open a link from an unknown source, use an adblocker to avoid malicious ads, and educate yourself on identifying and avoiding potentially unsafe websites and links.

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