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773 Million Reasons to be Alarmed, or Maybe Not

Data breaches have become so common nowadays that we often don’t hear about a breach unless it is quite significant. This is why this most recent breach, which is in fact a collection comprised of many individual data breaches, has made headline news among the security community. Troy Hunt, the creator of 'have i been pwned?', describes how on the second week of January 2019, several people contacted him to alert him of a large collection of files on MEGA; a popular cloud storage platform.

The collection, which holds over 87GB of data and is comprised of 773 million unique emails and 21 million unique passwords, has since been removed from the site. Although the size of it is frightening to say the least, it appears that maybe this collection is not as it seems.

Security researcher Brian Kreb, has advised that for the most part there is no need to be alarmed as the situation has been somewhat sensationalised. According to Kreb, although the sheer size of the collection is impressive, it is largely comprised of old breaches and passwords, some of which are over three years old. Nonetheless, this does not mean that stale data cannot be used for malicious reasons through phishing and extortion campaigns.

Sometimes an email address is the only thing a scammer needs to commence their attack on unsuspecting people. Periodically checking that your email address has never made it to the wrong hands, can reduce the risk of being targeted by a scammer. You can check it here through Hunt’s site.

Although it appears there is no real reason to be alarmed, this is another sterling reminder that people need to take the security of their passwords and accounts more seriously. Our recommendation to users is to check if your email does come up in this list, or any other list that has circulated around the net. If your email does come up and you have not changed your password in a while, doing so is highly recommended.

Using a password manager can also be a good idea so long as you keep your master password highly secured and change it on a regular basis.

Stay safe out there!

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