FamilySearch Breach May Expose Your Family’s Data

  • By Steven
  • Oct 19, 2022

FamilySearch Data Breach

One of the more significant family genealogy sites online, FamilySearch, revealed it experienced a data breach in March 2022. People around the world use this website to help build their family trees. They would input any information they knew and use the site's tools to expand the knowledge of the history of their family. Hackers intruded and accessed a wide range of personal data that could expose many to long-term consequences. 

How Did the Attack Occur? 

Those who operate FamilySearch recently noticed an intrusion into the network that could lead an outsider to access the personal data of its members. The authorities were notified, and the investigation began. The theory is a state-sponsored group of hackers is responsible for the attack, but this information has not been confirmed. Authorities believe the hack was just one part of a larger group of cyberattacks that were taking out websites for various governments and organizations worldwide. 

What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?

No specific numbers were given on how much data or how many accounts were hacked, but the number is believed to be in the thousands. Hackers had access to a significant amount of data. The information included the preferred language of the user, username, phone number, mailing and email addresses, the account holder's full name, the gender the account holder signed up using, and birth dates. 

How Did the Company Disclose the Breach?

FamilySearch sent out an email to its customers stating the original data breach occurred in March 2022. However, once they contacted the authorities, they were advised to remain quiet about the breach so a full investigation could take place. Now that the investigation is complete, the authorities have permitted FamilySearch to disclose the breach. 

What Will Become of the Stolen Information? 

U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Agencies believe this information is going to lead to identity theft. The information is not on just the user but also the user's family in most cases. That makes the chances of the hacker, or buyer if the data is put up for sale, much higher that he or she can pull off identity theft since they could have personal information like the mother's maiden name and previous addresses. 

What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?

If you suspect your information was part of the data breach, you should take a few steps right away. First, make sure to change your password to the FamilySearch website immediately. While it is recommended that you do this 3-4 times per year, it should be your first step after a potential breach. Next, be mindful of any strange emails, phone calls, or transactions. If you see anything suspicious, make sure to contact the authorities. Finally, you should proactively protect yourself with options such as two-factor authentication and identity monitoring services. These steps can help keep you as safe as possible. Nothing will be foolproof, but when this much data is loose, you want to take as many steps as possible.

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