While the terminology between a data breach and data leak may not seem very important, being prepared to react to compromised data is. Let’s start with knowing the difference between a breach and a leak.
A data breach is an unauthorized intrusion into any private system to access any sensitive data. Data breaches are typically the work of hackers.
A data leak may result in the same end game scenario, but differs greatly in that a leak is data left exposed or accessible, often accidentally.
While the hope is that you are protected and that your passwords are all secure, this realistically isn’t the case. You can have the strongest password possible, but depending on what information may be sold or accessible, the security can be entirely out of your hands.
Worse, a breach or leak won’t always make national news or show signs of unauthorized access.
If you see an out of state charge on your debit card, you’ll have a good idea that you didn’t make the purchase and suspect that you’ve been compromised. In the case of seeing unauthorized charges, the issue is clear.
However, say your email is compromised. It isn’t so obvious.
Perhaps the person with your credentials will monitor for a time in order to find valuable information on you or others.
There are so many ways to be compromised and so many types of information that someone with access to your account may be looking for.
In the past, I have used a few different websites to periodically check. This is obviously problematic, as reputable sources for compiling breached information are not overly abundant.
Being an IT professional, I felt comfortable looking for these sources. I do not recommend the same for just anyone.
Luckily, you no longer have to search to find any potentially compromised accounts. Google’s new extension “Password Checkup” is here to help.
Google Password Checkup is a browser extension that alerts you to any potentially compromised accounts.
While the browser extension is installed and enabled, it checks any account you log into using Google Chrome.
Now, this is not a foolproof protection blanket. While this is a great tool, it only checks against any data breaches that Google is aware of.
These are the same type of searches I mentioned earlier. While I would have to search before, Google Chrome can handle the work here.
If there is potential that your account is compromised, you should ensure you take steps to recover the account and change the passwords.
While there is no surefire way to remain safe, stay diligent. Remember to make sure your computer isn’t compromised by regularly running your anti-virus software.
Much like you lock your door at home, make sure you are taking care of your personal information.
Using Google’s Password Checkup is a great start, but it’s only a start. Change your passwords regularly and keep them unique.
A passphrase is a great way to have a password that is easy to remember but difficult to guess.