How to check whether your online accounts have been compromised

Ever wonder if any of your online accounts have been breached? Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check for compromised accounts – you can go to PwnedList.com, enter your email address or social networking username, and the site will check it against a vault of compromised data dumps. Currently the site has around 270,000,000 entries on record.

PwnedList.com doesn't store your data, though you can opt in to receive a tweet from them if it shows up later. If you don't trust it – and let's face it, if you're on the site you're probably naturally sceptical – the site also accepts SHA-512 hashed entries, which you can create at Online-convert.com or Shell-tools.net.

The check isn't completely thorough of course, but typically after a database has been compromised, the culprits will post personal information at sites like Pastebin or through torrents for cyber-ne’er-do-wells to freely peruse.

Hacks and compromised accounts are becoming a more common occurrence these days – recently we saw a massive breach of 4.6 million Snapchat accounts. Incidentally, PwnedList.com has created a section of the site just for Snapchat users to check if they were one of the unlucky ones.

If your email or username does appear on Pwnedlist, the first thing you should do is keep calm and change the password for the affected account. In fact, you should be doing that on a regular basis, anyway, as part of a good security regime.