Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Calvin C.
Did you know that there is a resource where you can check if your mobile number has been stolen online? Yes, you simply enter your phone number and it is checked against a growing database of phone numbers (and email addresses) that have been harvested by cybercriminals.
Why you need to worry
It’s unfortunate that a lot of people don’t appreciate the level of security and privacy breaches that are prevalent nowadays.
A lot of these cyberattacks are taking place in the background without giving away any obvious signs.
That is why I highlighted in one article that the age of only relying on antivirus software to keep viruses at bay, is long gone.
Cyberattacks have evolved and more layers of security are needed to achieve near-perfect security.
- If you use Facebook, then you have every reason to be worried.
This is because in early 2020, a vulnerability enabled attackers to view phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts.
As a result, the cybercriminals wasted no time in populating a database of personal identifying information for more than 533 million Facebook users!
- The information includes:
- Mobile number
- Marital status
The database made it to the public domain for free, so if your Facebook profile has a phone number, keep reading.
One user on Telegram even made a bot to query the database for a small fee, enabling users to find phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts.
Facebook made claims that the vulnerability was patched as soon as it came to light.
In an interview, a spokesperson from Facebook said, ““This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”
Protect your mobile number
This privacy breach is only a tip of the iceberg and it shows how much personal information people are revealing on popular platforms.
Once your phone is in the public domain like that, scammers can bombard you with requests, Ads and or even push malicious links to your device via chat messengers.
Nowadays, it’s easy for you to give up your mobile number online because some platforms like Facebook and Twitter have an option to sign up using a mobile number.
I have highlighted before how you need to reduce the amount of personal information on social platforms.
After signing up with your phone number, it’s best to delete it because once cybercriminals get it they can attempt to log into your other accounts.
Have I been pwned?
There is a website called HaveIBeenPwned.com that has been around for some time.
It’s a simple but powerful website aimed at fighting the war with cybercriminals.
This is achieved by checking if your mobile number or email address is found in a growing database of compromised personal data.
The term “pwned” means your data has been compromised by an attacker and it originated from gaming.
After one player is defeated, the message “you’ve been owned” is sometimes typed by the winner.
It was common (and still is) to mistype owned as pwned and this gave birth to the term.
To use the site, you enter your email address or mobile number in international format and hit the button.
I checked to see if one of my Gmail address is in the database and got the result below:
However, there is another Gmail address that I discontinued more than 10 years back after receiving a lot of spam. This one is now in the hands of cybercriminals as shown below.
- Make sure you check out an article I wrote on email security so that you don’t fall victim to email breaches.
If you get this result below, I advise you to change your email address or phone number because you never know when the attackers will strike.
The situation out there is not forgiving if you don’t take cybersecurity issues seriously.
Hackers are having a field day because the majority of personal information is freely available online and attacks usually occur silently.
Hide your online activity
One way in which you can have a peace of mind when visiting websites is by using a trusted VPN.
In my experience, you never go wrong with a VPN like NordVPN because it offers all the security features at a reasonable price.
You get full value for every dollar you spend on NordVPN.
- At a glance, with NordVPN you get:
Another excellent alternative is ExpressVPN although it’s pricier, but why pay more when you get all the standard features at a lower cost?
- Don’t use free VPN services because they give you a false sense of privacy and security.
Remember, cyberattacks occur in phases. The first phase is harvesting your personal data then later it is used to mount repeated attacks on potential accounts.
This article was meant to raise awareness on the need to be more vigilant when identifying areas that are overlooked by most people.
Your phone number or email address has to be private since it identifies you.
There are creeps, stalkers and unscrupulous individuals online that can bring havoc to your life if they get hold of your personal data.
Hide your online activity when online with a VPN and you are much safer especially when dealing with sensitive information.
Leave comments below and take part in the war against cybercrime by sharing the post with your friends.