Manga fans were shocked recently when MangaDex, one of the internet‘s most popular manga sites with over 30 million monthly visitors, was hacked, leading to a complete shutdown. According to a statement posted on their homepage, user account details were likely stolen in the breach:
"As a user, we encourage you to assume your data was compromised and take action by changing passwords and enabling two-factor authentication."
This incident serves as an alarming wake-up call about the importance of protecting your online identity. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about the MangaDex hack, analyze the potential motives behind it, and provide cybersecurity best practices to safeguard your personal data.
The Rise and Fall of MangaDex
Launched in 2017 as a manga aggregator, MangaDex gained immense popularity over the years as readers flocked to the site for its extensive catalog of over 450,000 free titles.
At its peak, MangaDex attracted over 30 million visitors per month, making it the largest manga platform on the internet. Users praised the site‘s speed, organization, and options to upload obscure and rare series.
But this meteoric growth also came with the risk of cyber attacks. Smaller manga sites are less alluring targets, but MangaDex‘s vast userbase made it a prized destination for hackers seeking account details and personal data.
Unfortunately, on March 23rd, 2021, those fears became reality. The site was completely taken down by unknown hackers. Let‘s analyze the details of this brazen cyber attack and its implications.
Dissecting the MangaDex Hack
While the exact methods used by the hackers are unclear, the attack was sophisticated enough to entirely shut down operations and access user data. Previous major hacks of sites like Twitch and MyFitnessPal have involved credential stuffing attacks, utilizing leaked username and password combinations.
Given MangaDex‘s statement about changing account passwords, this type of brute-force strategy seems likely. Once one account is compromised, access can be gained to database information. Ransomware attacks are also a possibility, encrypting and locking files until a bitcoin payment is made.
In both scenarios, personal user account details seem to have been exfiltrated based on the site‘s urgent warning. Information like emails, passwords, usernames, and reading lists may have been stolen for use or sale on hacker forums and the dark web.
Major data breaches saw 3.3 billion user records exposed in 2021 alone. When accounts are compromised, the impact often goes beyond that single site. An alarming 59% of people reuse passwords across multiple accounts, meaning a breach on one site puts many others at risk.
Safeguarding Your Accounts in the Wake of a Hack
If you had an account on MangaDex, here are the steps cybersecurity experts recommend taking immediately to protect your online identity:
Change any passwords you reuse on other accounts. Never reuse passwords between sites.
Use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to generate and store strong, unique passwords.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) which adds an extra login step for increased security.
Be on alert for any suspicious emails, texts or calls regarding your accounts.
Monitor financial statements closely for fraudulent charges or activity.
Consider using an anonymous email account for online services, masking your real address.
Use a VPN like Surfshark to encrypt traffic and obscure your IP address from prying eyes.
Hacks like this reinforce that your personal data has real value on the dark web. But taking preventative measures makes you a much less attractive target.
Will MangaDex Recover From This Hack?
With no full-time employees, MangaDex said its difficult to estimate when the site may come back online. Some experts believe restoration could take weeks or longer depending on the severity.
Previous hacked sites like MyFitnessPal took 4 months to resume service after a major 2018 data breach. In the case of KissAnime, the site remained closed permanently after a 2020 hacking incident.
MangaDex may be facing a long road to recovery. But this also opens up opportunities for alternative manga sites to capture former MangaDex users and fill the content void.
Best Manga Sites to Use While MangaDex is Down
Here are some of the top manga platforms to check out while awaiting the return of MangaDex:
Crunchyroll – A favorite for reading manga online with over 40,000 titles, Crunchyroll also offers anime streaming. Free tier has ads, premium is ad-free.
Comic Walker – Access a rotating selection of manga series for free. Create an account to read full chapters. App available.
Mangairo – Large library of manga series available for free. No account needed to start reading instantly.
Manga Reader – Simple, ad-supported site with many genres and popular series available.
Mangakakalot – Database of 45,000+ manga titles for free. Registration required. Also has manhwa and manhua comics.
While MangaDex focuses on recovery efforts, manga fans still have plenty of options to get their fix. Just remember to use strong passwords and account security.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to common questions about the MangaDex hack:
How did hackers breach MangaDex‘s security?
While unconfirmed, methods like credential stuffing attacks or ransomware are likely scenarios based on previous large hacks.
What user account information was compromised?
Email addresses, usernames, passwords, and reading lists were possibly accessed and exfiltrated according to MangaDex‘s statement.
Are there risks if my data was part of the breach?
Yes, hackers can leverage stolen account details to access other online accounts if password reuse is involved. Personal data also has monetary value.
How long until MangaDex comes back online?
Unknown – could be weeks or longer. Without full-time staff, restoring service after a major hack will be a formidable challenge.
What manga sites are best to use in the meantime?
Top alternatives include Crunchyroll, Comic Walker, Mangairo, Manga Reader, and Mangakakalot. Each offers an extensive catalog of titles.
The MangaDex attack shows no online platform is immune to hacking. But applying lessons learned by using strong unique passwords, 2FA, and anonymous emails reduces your risk substantially.