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Why you should fear phishing more than data breaches

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For some people, Google controls most of their identity online, and losing access to that critical account could be devastating. A recent study from Google and UC Berkeley examined the various ways accounts are compromised, and determined that phishing attacks – not data breaches – pose the most risk to users when it comes to lost access.

Google’s study lasted a year, from March 2016 until March 2017, and looked to better understand how attackers take over accounts. While phishing, keylogging, and data breaches impact everyone, Google focused on themselves as the case study.

“What we learned from the research proved to be immediately useful,” two of the study’s authors, Kurt Thomas and Angelika Moscicki, explained. In fact, the data helped secure some 67 million Google accounts before they could be abused.

Google’s study includes data taken from 25,000 malicious tools used for phishing and keylogging, which enabled the researchers to identify 788,000 compromised credentials due to keyloggers; 12 million credentials compromised via phishing; and 3.3 billion credentials exposed due to data breaches.