Millions of users around the world were shocked in April 2021 as news of a Facebook data leak spread like wildfire online and across the headlines of several prominent newspapers. The leak came from a low-level hacking forum where one user posted the personal data of over 500 million Facebook users free of charge. The brash move threatened users’ personal safety and security as it included the publication of phone numbers, full names, email addresses, physical locations and biographical information.
Sadly, this is just one in a string of high-profile data leaks from Facebook and other social media giants including WhatsApp, YouTube and TikTok. Despite promises from Facebook that it would clamp down on mass data-scraping after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2019, users data remains insecure and freely available on the web. This means cybercriminals can use the information for marketing, hacking, scamming, and phishing purposes.
So, how can you stay safe from these kinds of data leaks? Clearly, WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube, etc., are unable to provide adequate security measures. Fortunately, there are several ways to check whether your details are safe and, thanks to CoverMe, an easy way to prevent them from being leaked again in the future.
Has My Data Been Leaked? How Can I Protect My Data Security?
If you are only just hearing about these data leaks, the first thing to do is check whether your personal information has been leaked. One easy way to do this is to go to Have I Been Pwned, type in your phone number or the email address you use for social media, and it will inform you if you have been the subject of a leak.
Another website for checking whether your data has been leaked is The News Each Day, which provides similar functions.
Unfortunately, the nature of these tech giants is that they make a profit by collecting your information and selling it to third parties. This is typically so that they can show you targeted ads, rather than anything malicious. However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your data privacy:
- Make use of privacy settings. Facebook and other social media sites, due to the recent criticism they have faced, now allow you to modify your privacy settings and limit what kind of tracking technology is employed on your profile. For example, you can keep your phone number hidden or limit who sees your photos and posts.
- Limit the rights of third-party apps. Most apps will allow you to sign up for their services using a Facebook account or a Google account. Never do this. In doing so, you grant those apps access to significant portions of your profile – and some even post for you on your behalf.
- Don’t post personal info or photos you might regret. This one is simple, but essential. Do not post the kind of information, either publicly or privately, that you don’t want to risk being leaked. It’s impossible to know when a data breach could occur, how deep it will strike, and how widely your information will be spread. Know that once you post something online, even if you delete it, it will remain stored somewhere forever.
- Use a VPN. This allows you to cloak your IP address when you access a website, making it harder for third parties to track your location. However, you will still need to sign up to the social media service using an email address or a phone number, so this step offers only minimal protection.
Stop the Leak at the Source
The above measures are temporary fixes at best. Even if you follow them, your data could still be hacked and your privacy invaded. The best way to avoid your data being leaked is to never share it in the first place and never use real information to sign up to a social media account. Instead, use a second phone number app, like CoverMe, to get a fake number that you can use to sign up to social media services and that you don’t care about being leaked.
Rather than buying a separate burner phone, like in the old days, there are plenty of apps now available that let you create a secure second number directly from within your phone that you can even use to call and text other mobile numbers. CoverMe is a market leader in mobile phone security and offers unlimited alternative numbers through their free downloadable app. Their service also includes a wealth of other security features to protect you while you surf online.
- Encrypted messages and calls. The best thing about CoverMe is that it uses military-grade protection protocols such as end-to-end encryption throughout its service. This means you can message and call people completely anonymously and without fear of your messages being spied on or leaked.
- Call anyone, anywhere. You can use the numbers provided by CoverMe to make calls to anyone in the US, Canada, or China – they don’t even need to have the app, and the calls are free because they go over VoIP!
- Private vaults. CoverMe lets you lock up your digital valuables like videos, documents, contacts, photos and voice messages with four-digit pins and decoy passwords to hide files on your phone.
- No phone bill entries. The end-to-end encrypted calls and messages will never show up on your phone bill, meaning no prying eyes can see who you’ve called.
- Private chatting groups. Meet up with friends and business contacts in these rooms that let you text, call, send files, photos and videos, and even broadcast – all over a secure network.
- Self-destructing messages and message recall. This might sound like something out of a James Bond movie, but it’s a real tool provided by CoverMe and essential for protecting time-sensitive documents or preventing the wrong people from reading messages sent in error.
Thanks to these handy features, you’ll not only be safe from Facebook data leaks, but you’ll also be safe from the majority of other cyber security threats in existence. So, check out the secret number app from CoverMe – the only true way to stay safe. Download the CoverMe app now.