Firefox Monitor is a service integrated into Firefox and accessible through a website. It is the result of a partnership between Mozilla and I’ve been hung up. The Firefox monitor allows you to check if an account linked to your email address has been involved in a data breach.
You may be wondering how it does it or you may be wondering what a “data breach” is in the first place. Let us explain it in the simplest way.
What is a data breach?
When you sign up for an account with an online service, they store data about you. This can include all sorts of information, but if it’s a commercial site, it could include your credit card number. This information may include personal information such as social security, your home address, and more.
Competent online service providers will protect this information by encrypting it, which means that only someone with the right key (that is, your password) can read the contents of the files.
When one data breach it happens, it means that hackers have managed to download that encrypted data (hopefully) from the servers. At this time, your information may be compromised and your credentials may also be exposed. Assuming hackers manage to break the encryption, that is.
Why should I care about data breaches?
An average person on the street may not fully understand the seriousness of a data breach. Of course, there is a possibility that the stolen credit card information will be used to steal your money. However, as long as it is not the result of your own negligence, credit card companies will refund the money lost due to fraud.
A much more dangerous type of information abuse is identity theft. With the right information about you, criminals can impersonate you and wreak havoc. This can include applying for a loan with your name or anything real. Recovering from identity theft can be brutally difficult to achieve and this crime destroys lives every year.
If you are the type of person who uses the same username and password combination in different sites and services, data breaches will also pose a special risk. It means you only need one breach to expose your entire life online.
How does the Firefox monitor know I’m engaged?
Firefox Monitor uses the same sources of information as Have I Been Pwned. Although the content of data breaches is disclosed to the public in various ways, the most common source of this information comes from the Dark Web.
The Dark Web is a part of the web that cannot be accessed by normal means. The typical dark website exists as the so-called “Onion”Place. It must be accessed through an encrypted network of anonymous computers. It is in this hidden part of the web where you will find black markets selling a whole range of illegal items, both physical and digital.
Hackers who steal and break data collected during data breaches sell and distribute this information to darknet markets. Once these databases are on the open market, sites like Have I Been Pwned collect this information and make it searchable.
How can I use the Firefox monitor to protect myself?
There are two main ways to use Firefox Monitor to help improve login security. The first is to access the Firefox Monitor directly from the main menu of the Firefox browser. Just sign in with your Firefox account and it will direct you to the Firefox Monitor control panel.
The second way is to access the site through any browser. You don’t really need to be a Firefox user to benefit from the monitor. You can then register email addresses that will be monitored for inclusion in violations. As soon as your email address appears in a breach, you will receive an email alert to let you know.
Good security habits that protect against data breaches
You have no control over whether or not you are caught in a data breach. Ultimately, it is in the hands of the owner of the business or site to which you have provided your data. There is no perfect security system and it is inevitable that at least one of your logins will be compromised at some point.
While you can’t prevent this from happening, you can lessen the impact of a data breach. The most important step you need to take is to make sure all your passwords are unique. The main reason why infringements cause so much damage is that people tend to reuse passwords. Hackers know this, so they will try to use the password on other websites that you are likely to have accounts with.
Aside from having unique passwords, you must use secure passwords. The most effective way to do this is to let a password manager generate passwords for you and save them to your file.
Crucially, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever it is offered. 2FA warrants that even if your email and password are compromised, it is still not enough to access your account.
What to do after a data breach
If you’re unlucky enough to be caught in a data breach, you need to select the “resolve this violation” button on your Firefox monitor and check exactly what types of data have been compromised. Some data you can’t change, for example, if your date of birth has been leaked, you obviously can’t change it.
However, whenever possible, you should change any compromised information. This means at least usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.
It is important to be aware not only of potential access to your accounts, but also of other ways in which your information may be used against you. You may be targeting supplement fishing, which is a type of attack in which your personal information is used to deceive you.
The attacker can impersonate someone you know and trick you into giving access to your bank account or making you pay money into their account. It can also guide you as a way to access information about the company you work for or some other indirect goal accessible through your connections.
When you have been involved in a data breach in which personal information has been stolen, you should also look for signs of identity theft, such as notifications that have submitted credit applications on your behalf.
Don’t be scared
This is how the information provided by Firefox Monitor can protect your login data and help you avoid damage from private data that has already been lost in past infringement cases. It can be scary to receive an email telling you that your information has been compromised, but the most important thing is to avoid panic.
Carefully and systematically review the details of the infringement and then decide what specific measures are appropriate for the type of information that has been stolen. With a few key steps, as mentioned above, you’re likely to be fine.