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Opera Suffers Major User Data Breach

Posted on September 7, 2016

With millions of active users on Mac platforms alone and hundreds of millions more users worldwide, Opera remains a favorite web browser even two decades after its first release. On its website download page, Opera even bills itself as “the best browser for Mac.” Apple users should, therefore, pay close to attention to a recent data breach affecting users of the Sync feature. Opera Sync functions similarly to Google Chrome’s sync function, which synchronizes settings and other data over multiple devices. This feature is very helpful for individuals who use multiple devices each day, but it does require a password and login to enable. In the most recent breach, details of nearly two million users, including login names and passwords, were stolen.

Upon detection of the breach, Opera moved quickly to both notify its users and deactivate the affected passwords. The stolen information was also encrypted, but Opera warned its users to reset any similar passwords in use elsewhere on the web as soon as possible, out of an abundance of caution. Though instituting a forced password reset and engaging in full disclosure so rapidly is commendable, this massive breach of information follows closely on the heels of a similar leak at Dropbox.

Indeed, 2016 has seen many high-profile, high-value data breaches. In turn, this creates additional security risks as hackers attempt to use the stolen information. Identity theft is all too easy in today’s digital world. These breaches raise questions not only about the way major companies are protecting our data but also about how we can protect ourselves in the age of the password leak.

Good password habits are worth their weight in gold. There can be nothing more important from a security point-of-view than protecting your accounts. That is why reusing passwords is such a poor idea. Consider the mundane, basic nature of Opera Sync — it performs an important function but is a low-level service compared to a banking app. Using the same password for both locations is unwise and insecure.

If Opera Sync suffers an attack, it’s only a matter of time before more high profile targets also experience an issue. These breaches serve as reminders to create unique, difficult-to-guess passwords. Changing passwords regularly also protects you in the case of an unreported data theft. While often challenging given how much of the web requires a login these days, there is no substitute for vigilance about security. At the same time, users can and must demand stringent security standards from companies such as Opera, Dropbox, and many others.

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