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How to Use 'Have I Been Pwned' to See If Your Data Was Compromised

Data breaches have affected most Americans over the past few years, leading to unauthorized access of log-in credentials, financial information, and personal data that can be used by criminals intent on committing fraud.

To tighten up your digital security, it’s important to know which of your accounts have been affected. That’s a task you can accomplish at the free site Have I Been Pwned, a resource that is widely recommended by security experts. (The term “pwn” is hacker jargon for compromising or taking control of a computer or an application.) 

Created by Australian web security consultant Troy Hunt, the site analyzes information from hundreds of breaches and millions of compromised accounts, whose data often ends up posted online and traded by criminals. The site lets you enter an email address or a phone number to find out whether it has appeared in any of the data breaches the site tracks. Then you can change your passwords and take other steps to protect yourself.

Consumer Reports has been steering people to Have I Been Pwned for years, and security-savvy consumers may have used it before. However, the site has gradually become more robust, adding features and expanding its records of compromised data. And, unfortunately, data breaches continue to occur. So even if you’ve checked the site before, it’s worth another visit.

The site has a number of functions for both one-time users and returning visitors.

Search for Your Information
The primary function of Have I Been Pwned is to tell you whether your information has been compromised. Enter your email address or phone number and you’ll get a list of data breaches tied to those details. The site will also provide information such as when each data breach happened, the name of the affected company, what data was compromised, how the breach was discovered, and how many accounts were involved.

Sign Up for Notifications 
You can sign up to receive an email notification every time your personal information is found in a new data breach. That’ll allow you to take steps to minimize the risk of fraud or identity theft, such as changing your password on that account—and any other accounts where you used the same password.

Stop Other People From Seeing Your Data
You can opt out of letting other people enter your email address and finding out which data breaches have affected you. You provide the site with your email address, then follow a link from the email you receive to choose exactly how you want to opt out. (For instance, In addition to stopping others from searching for breaches related to your email address, you can have your email address removed from the system altogether.)

By default, data breaches Hunt considers sensitive—such as breaches on adult sites—are not publicly searchable. Those details are revealed only to people who sign up to receive email notifications.

Have I Been Pwned is a useful resource for finding out when you’ve been affected by a data breach, but it’s best to get ahead of the problem by making your accounts more secure. Two important steps, Hunt says, are enabling multifactor authentication and using a password manager to generate and save strong passwords.

If you do that, you may end up accessing Hunt’s data without actually visiting his site. The password manager 1Password, which costs $3 per month and up, comes with a feature called Watchtower that lets you compare your passwords against a list of compromised passwords maintained by Have I Been Pwned. Then, 1Password will tell you which passwords to change right away.

Data from Have I Been Pwned is also used in browser extensions such as Okta’s PassProtect for Chrome.

Hunt says one of the best uses for Have I Been Pwned is to learn about how much information you’re sharing online. “There’s a little bit of data minimization that almost everybody can practice,” he says. “For example, do you need to give your date of birth to a site that asks for it? What is the value proposition for you as an individual handing out your date of birth?”

If the site doesn’t really need a piece of information to provide you with the service you want, consider withholding it, he says.

Yael Grauer

I am an investigative tech reporter covering digital privacy and security. I'm the lead content creator of CR Security Planner, a free, easy-to-use guide to staying safer online. Prior to Consumer Reports, I covered surveillance, online privacy and security, data brokers, dark patterns, clandestine trackers, security vulnerabilities, VPNs, hacking, and digital freedom for Wired, Vice, The Intercept, Slate, Ars Technica, OneZero, Wirecutter, Business Insider, Popular Science, and other publications. Follow me on Twitter (@yaelwrites)


What to Do After a Data Breach

Data breaches are often in the news, but your personal information can be compromised even if you haven't heard about an incident. In 2020, more than 150 million people had sensitive information exposed, including passwords, phone numbers, home addresses, financial data, and other sensitive information.

In the aftermath, criminals may try to log into the breached account with your email address and password, and they may also try to log into many other accounts using the same email address and password—an attack known as credential stuffing.

If you’ve been involved in a data breach, there are steps you can take to regain control of your accounts and protect your personal information. And you can take many of the same steps proactively, to keep your data safe before there's a security failure.

“The main thing is looking at what data was breached and where you might have used that data,” says Katie Moussouris, founder and CEO of Luta Security, a security firm that helps businesses and governments work with hackers to better defend themselves from digital attacks. “Take a look at which pieces of information were compromised, and start looking at any places where you reuse that information.”

The first step in responding to a data breach is to figure out exactly what information was exposed.

Sometimes, companies will contact you to let you know whether your information was found in a data breach. You can also search across multiple data breaches to check to see whether your email address or phone number have been compromised on the website Have I Been Pwned.

If your password was compromised, you have to change it not only on the breached service but also everywhere else you’ve used that password.

The quickest way to do this is by using a password manager, which allows you to store unique, complex passwords for each account. Although it’s important to have a different password for each account, it’s best to start with by changing passwords you know were a part of a data breach.

If your name and phone number were part of a data breach, attackers can use it to try to log into your account. When you turn on multifactor authentication (MFA), which is available for financial sites, social media sites, and many others, you’ll need a second factor in addition to your password to log in. That way, if an attacker gets your password, they still won’t be able to access your account.

Experts recommend using MFA, but some methods are better than others. If you’re using text messages, it’s best to switch to an authentication app such as Google Authenticator or Authy. Or you can use a hardware security key such as a Yubikey.

To remember all the services you want to switch, you can start by scrolling through your text messages to see which services have sent you security codes to log into your account. Then look for those accounts in this directory, to see whether you can use a software token for multifactor authentication. If you can, follow the steps listed. You’ll need to download an authenticator app if you don’t have one already, and scan the QR code from the website for the service you have an account with. That way you’ll be able to log into your account with your password and a temporary code on your authenticator app.

Some accounts don’t allow you to use authenticator apps or hardware keys for MFA. In those cases, Moussouris recommends getting a Google Voice number for any account that requires you to use a phone number as a second layer of authentication.

If your home address was compromised in a data breach and you learn that it’s been posted on another site, you can report it and see whether it can be removed.

If your address is showing up in web searches, you can report it to Google and Bing. Both of those search engines can help you remove your address from their results.

  • On Twitter, file a report stating that private information was posted.
  • On Facebook, click on the three dots above the post and select “find support or report post” and select the most appropriate option.
  • On Reddit, click on the “report” icon next to the post.

Although it’s not always possible to scrub your home address from the web entirely, because it’s often linked to voter roles, real estate listings, and other public records, you can limit how easy it is to use your information by removing it from certain sites online through paid services like Kanary and DeleteMe, or through the time-consuming process of opting out yourself.

If your Social Security number or financial information was part of a data breach, freezing your credit will restrict access to it, which makes it challenging for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

To do this, contact each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These credit bureaus will offer free weekly credit reports through April 20, 2022, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Before the pandemic, they each offered a single free report annually and charged $20 for additional reports. You’ll have to temporarily lift the freeze in certain circumstances, for example, when you’re applying for a credit card or car loan, or want to rent an apartment.

Having too many digital accounts increases the risk of your data being misused or stolen. The first step to getting rid of accounts for defunct platforms or ones you haven’t used in years is to find them. Type your usernames, old and new, into a search engine, or look for combinations of your name and email address. You can also look for phrases such as “welcome to” or “new account” in your inbox, or look for saved logins in your search engine. Or just head back to Have I Been Pwned and remove accounts from apps you no longer use where your information has been compromised in the past.

Once you’ve taken these steps, be sure to keep an eye on all of your active accounts, including those with your banks, lenders, and retailers.

Yael Grauer

I am an investigative tech reporter covering digital privacy and security. I'm the lead content creator of CR Security Planner, a free, easy-to-use guide to staying safer online. Prior to Consumer Reports, I covered surveillance, online privacy and security, data brokers, dark patterns, clandestine trackers, security vulnerabilities, VPNs, hacking, and digital freedom for Wired, Vice, The Intercept, Slate, Ars Technica, OneZero, Wirecutter, Business Insider, Popular Science, and other publications. Follow me on Twitter (@yaelwrites)

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Consumer Reports Login Hack

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Free access to Consumer Reports - Forums

May 23, 2012 · This is the second time you created a thread like this: free-access-consumer-reports-1117532/ As I mentored in the last thread, most Canadian libraries provide free access to the website of Consumer Reports. If you have a valid library card, go to your library's website and …

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How To Cancel Consumer Reports in Under Ten Minutes

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Hack consumer reports login

773 Million Consumer Accounts Had Email and Passwords Exposed

Australian security researcher Troy Hunt discovered the consumer files on the cloud service MEGA. "It's made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources," he explained on his website.

Hunt maintains the site Have I Been Pwned, which allows consumers to determine whether their email addresses or passwords have been compromised. You can check there to see if your information was included in this latest data dump.

While attempts to aggregate information from previous data breaches are not uncommon, this one, originally reported by Wired, is remarkable for its sheer size. It's one of the biggest dumps ever of consumer data, surpassed only by two earlier data breaches from Yahoo, which compromised more than 1 billion accounts.

"The sheer volume of data is striking, but a lot, if not all, of this data was already out there, just scattered in different places," says CR's Brookman. "It is remarkable, though, that people are taking the effort to collate and host this data for free."

This data dump included 772,904,991 email addresses as well as 21,222,975 unique passwords. About half of those 21 million passwords had not previously been leaked, to Hunt's knowledge. Even though the data has been removed from the internet, it's likely that cybercriminals had access to it before it was deleted.

Hunt stressed that verifying the veracity of the data in any kind breach is "non-trivial." However, he added that his own information was included in the data dump. "My own personal data is in there and it's accurate; right email address and a password I used many years ago."

"it's not easy to know how much of it is new and/or legitimate, but there is definitely personal data in at least some of it," says Robert Richter, program manager for privacy and security testing at Consumer Reports.

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The semen from her mouth dripped onto her left breast, and there were also slightly dried traces of my semen on her pubic hair. And stomach. And on the inside of her left thigh, I noticed a trickle of my seed. I hate it, she whispered, barely audible and barely intelligible, and closed her eyes.

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The realization that my appearance had aroused a stranger's arousal was reflected in me too. Excitement was growing and my whole lower abdomen was filled with languor. I felt a drop of my lubricant slowly slide down the inner side of my thigh. This meant that my entire crotch was already moisturized to the limit and if nothing was done, then the discharge would inevitably end up on.

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