Mobile Payments Users Beware: 773 Million Emails Exposed in New Data Breach

January 22, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Well, congratulations, folks; we managed to get a little over two weeks in to the New Year before having to hear about a data breach in progress. The wait, however, meant that we were in for a doozy, and this one most certainly qualifies. It’s being called the largest data breach literally ever, which in an era where data breaches are almost commonplace really means something.

This particular breach took in almost 773 million records, including email addresses and some passwords. Published on the MEGA cloud service, the records were collected from a series of several separate data breaches and made public. MEGA ultimately took down the collection of records, but it’s unclear just how long said records were made available.

Web security expert, and Microsoft security regional director for Australia Troy Hunt verified the data, and was shocked to discover that some of his own data had found its way into that massive data dump. Given that Hunt is a security professional and takes several steps to protect his identity, the end result here should freak out just about anybody.

Those interested in seeing if they’re actually affected by the hack can check their email addresses via Hunt’s website, Have I Been Pwned, to find out. Hunt verifies that this is the single largest breach he’s ever loaded into the site, which makes it indeed a top competitor for biggest of all time.

So what can we do in response? Not much. Some recommend regular password changes for the sake of maintenance, but considering how much online presence we actually have these days, that may be impractical. Manually inputting passwords may not hurt either, and keeping them written down in a notebook or using a password manager may help here. The chances of someone walking into your house and reading your password notebook are negligible at best.

Still, what this represents is a call to even further vigilance on our parts. It’s the kind of thing that’s necessary when you live online, and use the many services—like mobile payments—it affords.