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FamilySearch genealogy site suffers data breach

There’s something magical about discovering where you come from and how your ancestors migrated around the globe. There are several websites where you can create a complete family tree, Ancestry.com, My Heritage and FamilySearch being the most popular.

In most cases, you create a free profile and start adding family members. Then you get additional tools that can help you with your research for a monthly fee. Unfortunately, one of the most popular genealogy sites suffered a massive data breach. This could put your information at risk.

Read on to find out how hackers hacked into one of the biggest genealogy websites and what you can do about it.

Here is the backstory

FamilySearch, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has revealed that it has detected an unauthorized network intrusion that could affect personal data provided by users.

In an emailed statement to users, FamilySearch explains that the data breach happened in March this year, but had to keep it secret pending an investigation. The law enforcement instruction to keep the breach confidential was lifted this week, prompting the service to disclose the breach.

With thousands of user data and family tree information at stake, FamilySearch says law enforcement authorities believe the risk is minimal. We don’t know why this pretends not to be a big deal. He is!

Details potentially affected include:

  • username
  • Full name
  • Genre
  • E-mail address
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Preferred language

This is the type of information criminals need to commit identity theft.

The FamilySearch email claims that a state-sponsored hacker group may have initiated the breach. He said U.S. federal law enforcement authorities suspected the intrusion was part of a pattern of state-sponsored cyberattacks targeting organizations and governments around the world.

What can you do about it

There are a few things you can do to minimize the potential fallout. FamilySearch recommends that you remain vigilant about the security of your data and check your other accounts for any strange activity.

Here are some other steps to follow:

  • Immediately change your FamilySearch password. You should regularly change your passwords at least once every three months. And create hard-to-crack passwords.
  • Beware of phishing emails hit your inbox. Scammers prey on breaches by sending malicious emails to trick you into clicking on their links that are supposed to contain important information. Watch out for strange URLs, return addresses, and spelling/grammatical errors. It is recommended that you never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages.
  • Keep an eye on your bank statements for any unusual transaction. If you notice anything strange, inform your bank immediately.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all your online accounts that offer it. This will make it harder for hackers to access your accounts.
  • Check haveibeenpwned.com. Enter your email address into this online database to reveal data breaches in which you may be involved.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and working on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Get an annual plan with TotalAV for just $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!
  • Never use the same credentials for multiple online accounts. If you used the same password for FamilySearch as another account, change them all as soon as possible.

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