South Africans are ‘pwned’ in worst data leak ever

28 Nov

Having your personal information and data compromised can mean serious problems for both private individuals and corporations. The biggest data leak to date in South Africa, was recently discovered by Troy Hunt, the regional director of Microsoft.

The information that Hunt found online contained over 30 GB of data detailing the ID numbers, income details, occupations and addresses of over 30 million South Africans! Even more concerning is that no-one really knows what this breach means. There has been no claim or indication of whether it was posted online with the intention to cause damage, commit fraud or simply as a result of pure ignorance/negligence.

Is the leaked info that Troy Hunt found legitimate?

The file that Troy stumbled across was called “masterdeeds” which immediately piqued his interested. He turned to Twitter to ask the general public what should be done.

In an attempt to determine legitimacy, several South African followers offered to compare their personal particulars with those that Troy had found and sure enough, the details were accurate! This type of leak is often caused by a lack of correct protocols and set practices in departments where sensitive information and data is handled.

Troy Hunt – SA public hero #1

Troy Hunt is a Microsoft regional director, and owner of website “haveibeenpwned.com”. This website is a public service that enables individuals (and businesses) to check if any of their email addresses have been compromised by hacks.

Troy Hunt added all the email addresses related to the recently publicised hack to the haveibeenpwned.com database, so there’s no time like the present to check if your personal information has been affected. The leaked information dates all the way back to 1990, so you might want to check multiple email accounts, even ones that you haven’t used in years.

Are data leaks always going to plague the world?

Ignorance is often to blame for data leaks and hacks. If more people understood the dangers in a data leak and how they actually happen, there would probably be far fewer occurrences. There are a few ways in which you can safe guard yourself from them though. Consider these tips:

  • Don’t keep sensitive data stored on local machines where everyone has the same access
  • Make sure that sensitive data is backed up with data encryption and not stored locally
  • Don’t use the same password across all accounts and platforms
  • Make sure that your passwords are strong and are not based on things people could easily guess from your personal information
  • Use a tool such as LastPass to create, store and protect your passwords.
  • Have you been “pwned”?

It’s time to start taking steps towards protecting yourself against data leaks and breaches! Safeguard your data by backing up regularly to the cloud regularly and don’t forget to check if your details have been made public!

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