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What The Hack: Leaks, breaches and what to do when you get hacked

Hi everyone! I am Skylar, your ZeroFOX Analyst, bringing you all the data breaches and data leaks in one single read. Welcome to What The Hack!, a new blog series that serves as the go-to resource for updates on data breaches and leaked information (with a little humor mixed in too).

To kick off this series, I want to tell you a story. Believe it or not, even the professionals are affected by breaches and leaks. Case and point: the email I used when I was in high school was involved in a data breach. Thankfully, it was one I had used for job interviews and not the one I created for Myspace because this article would be way more embarrassing if that was the case. In this post, we’ll walk through the difference between a breach and a leak, how you can identify if you’ve been part of a breach, and what you can do to prevent involvement in future breaches.

WHAT THE HACK IS A LEAK?

What is a leak?  A leak is the effect of a widespread issue resulting in misconfigured databases that are easily searchable on Google or through other extremely accessible tools. In other cases, though, leaks are the direct result of how a service is intended to function. Ready for a fun fact? In all states, by law companies must disclose data breaches. However, when it comes to leaks, these laws can be hard to enforce. For one, disclosure requires acknowledgment and awareness of an issue, but in many cases, knowledge of leaks comes from third-party security professionals and sometimes whistleblowers.

WHAT THE HACK IS A BREACH?

What is a breach? Data breaches are intrusions into sensitive systems by a hacker(s) or unauthorized user. So unlike a leak, a breach means that someone is actively trying to pursue the affected data. Hackers aiming to conduct data breaches often rely on methods such as SQL injection, Cross site scripting, and Clickjacking. Social media is one of the easiest ways for these hackers to access your data. They do so through impersonating accounts, malicious links (often sent through direct messages), and other phishing attempts. But they don’t stop at social media. They even try to use your favorite video game, Fortnite, creating fake websites and social media campaigns to get you to give up your credentials, credit card numbers and personal information.

WHAT THE BREACH!

Now that we know the difference between a breach and a leak, I’m going to tell you how my own email address was in a breach and what I did about it.

Sample ZeroFOX alert for compromised credentials

I was informed through the ZeroFOX Platform that my email address was part of a TicketFly breach that affected approximately 26,151,608 users. The breach affected not only email addresses but names, phone numbers and physical addresses as well.

If you have been affected by a similar breach, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Change your password and make it strong.
  2. Don’t choose a password you use for other sites. This makes it easier for hackers to access your accounts.
  3. Always use Two-Factor Authentication when available.

Now that you’ve heard my own experience, I hope you will continue to read future installments of What the Hack! I will be bringing you breaches and leaks as they are found with key information and steps to take after you are affected. If you would like to get real time alerts like the one above when you are affected by a breach or leak, contact my team at ZeroFOX.