Internet users can now check whether or not cyber criminals have stolen any of their personal data and released it online, courtesy of the Identity Leak Checker, a free online service.
The Hasso Plattner Institute for IT Systems Engineering at the University of Potsdam in Germany created the Identity Leak Checker service, which requires concerned parties only to enter their e-mail address. The system will then search the internet for any freely available personal data linked to them and their e-mail address.
If any names, passwords, account details or other personal data associated with the e-mail address are found to be circulating, the HPI will warn the user via e-mail and advise on how best to proceed. For security reasons, the Institute will not disclose the precise nature of the data the system finds.
To date, researchers at the university Institute have identified and analysed over 170 million sets of personal data on the internet. Some 667,000 free checks have been carried out since the service launched in Germany. In 80,000 of those cases, users had to be informed that they had been the victims of identity theft.
“This type of warning system for stolen personal data circulating the internet aims to make users more aware of the way they handle their personal data,” said Professor Christoph Meinel, director of the HPI. His department has also built a database for analysing IT vulnerabilities (https://hpi-vdb.de), which integrates and combines large quantities of data already available online about software vulnerabilities and other security issues. The database currently contains over 61,000 pieces of information about weak spots that exist in nearly 160,000 software programs from over 13,000 manufacturers.
The HPI database has also started helping users run free checks of their computers to identify weak spots that cybercriminals could exploit for their attacks. The system recognises the user's browser - including commonly used plugins - and displays a list of known vulnerabilities. Plans to expand the self-diagnosis system to cover other software titles installed on a computer are currently in the pipeline.
The University of Potsdam’s Institute is funded by SAP AG co-founder Hasso Plattner. SAP is the world’s most widely used business operations and customer relations management enterprise software, making SAP AG one of the world’s largest software companies.
The Identity Leak Checker service: https://sec.hpi.de