We’ve all heard by now that Facebook isn’t exactly the safest place to share personal data. Those apps that masquerade as games are actually gathering data, Facebook is listening in to your conversations, and well…basically the app exists to gather data for third parties.

If you’re worried that your settings need to be shored up so that this doesn’t happen to you – or at least, that it doesn’t happen without your knowledge – there’s a new player in the game.

Image Credit: Personal Screenshot

A new “free resource for anyone to quickly assess if they may have been put at risk due to an online account of theirs having been compromised,” called Have I Been Pwned, announced that the phone numbers of the 533 million compromised Facebook users had been added to their database.

Data break expert Troy Hunt runs the website, and says all you have to do is input your phone number to check whether or not your account was likely exposed. They also give you the steps you can take in order to protect yourself.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included phone, only 2.5 million contained an email address. Most records contained names and genders with many also including dates of birth, location, relationship status and employer.”

Image Credit: Personal Screenshot

Facebook’s official statement is that the data is old and was reported back in 2019, and also accused Have I Been Pwned of “scraping” the data from their website.

“Scraping is a common tactic that often relies on automated software to lift public information from the internet that can end up being distributed in online forums like this.”

Here’s the rub: even if your data was stolen or sold by what turns out to be a bad actor, there’s not a lot you can do about it. You can’t change your birthday, of course, and most of us are loathe to change the phone numbers we’ve had for years unless there’s no other option.

If you do find out that your data has been compromised, Have I Been Pwned has some suggestions on how you can take some general security precautions going forward.

  1. Protect yourself by using a password generating app to make sure you have unique and strong passwords for all of your apps.
  2. Enable 2-factor authentication and store the codes in that password generating app.
  3. Subscribe to notifications for any additional breaches, and then make sure to change the password for the app or site that was compromised.

Image Credit: Personal Screenshot

There’s no way to 100% be sure that your information is secure online, whether with Facebook or anywhere else, but there are ways to at least know that you’re doing your best to prevent on your end.

Stay safe out there!