Almost every Internet portal requires us to sign up in order to browse through its content. The largest of portals contain millions of personal data sets, passwords, telephone numbers etc. Such a database can seem like a treat worth the effort for the hackers! Are you vulnerable?

User data trade is a thriving business on the Internet. Huge bases of email addresses can reach prices measured in thousands of dollars. For a hacker, acquiring such a base is a great opportunity to earn decent money.

Leaky websites

Capable hackers can inflict considerable damage to computers systems, as well as steal databases from numerous websites. Sites with gaps in their security are the other side of the same problem – if a website allows data to leak, it indicates it was not prepared well enough to withstand an attack in the first place. However, acquiring a database is not always done by means of purposeful intrusion. A minor flaw in the code is enough to render the list of users accessible by anyone able to find the aforementioned flaw.

What happens when your personal information become widely accessible?

At best, your email account will be flooded with spam consisting of adverts and offers. But what if your profile contained a credit card number, residence address, or phone number? The worst case scenario includes your money vanishing from your account, or you receiving an information about a bank loan signed with your name!

Not only information can leak

A recent news about hacking into one of the computer cloud services left numerous celebrities in shock – their private pictures, often nude ones, leaked from Apple iCloud! Their list is remarkably long, including famous names such as Avril Lavigne, Hillary Duff, Kim Kardashian, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna, Scarlet Johansson, Selena Gomez, or Jennifer Lawrence. The pictures can be automatically uploaded to iCloud account – it requires only to flag an appropriate option on a mobile device. This allows the users to access the pictures from any computer by logging into the iCloud account. ‘How did the pictures leak out? That remains unknown. The only thing certain is that the hacker found an easy way to access the users‘ accounts.

How can you protect yourself from such situations?
On one hand, the pictures of less-known people will certainly not be as appealing to the hackers. But on the other hand, you might want to wonder whether taking such pictures and storing them on any website has any sense whatsoever.

Hackers can steal not only personal information or pictures.
Quite recently, Sony Pictures system was also attacked – even paralysed. The day of the attack, all the employees were given leave to go home. The people responsible presented their demands, threatening to publish various materials on the Internet, should their demands not be met. It already came to pass, resulting in Sony‘s stolen films emerging all over the Internet. Hackers have once again proved themselves to be a considerable threat.

Where did other information leak from?

  • July 20 2013 ‘ information about 1.8 million users was stolen from an Ubuntu forum.
  • Mid-August 2013 ‘ after a series of hacks, the data of 2.9 million customers leaked from Adobe Systems.
  • Early 2014 ‘ information about more than 4 million users leaked from the popular Snapchat service.
  • Since November 29 2013, sensitive information about 70 million customers, including their credit card numbers, were stolen from several retail chains in the USA.
  • Between 17 and 19 of April 2011, an unauthorized person gained access to Playstation Network, complete with the data of 70 million users.

Providing your personal data on each and every website is not a good idea. Even though there are certain sites where it is necessary, try and share as little information as possible. You can never know if another attack will be aimed toward you.

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