Yesterday, news broke that a Russian crime ring known as CyberVor has stolen over a billion username/password combinations, as well as a half billion email addresses from popular sites all over the web. While there is currently no way to confirm whether your information has been compromised, or even which websites have been hit, it would be prudent to assume that at least one of your online accounts has been jeopardized, and take action to ensure the security of all of your online accounts.
When creating new passwords for your accounts, do not reuse passwords for multiple accounts. That way, if one of your accounts gets hacked, criminals won’t automatically have access to more of your accounts. There are several strategies for making sure the new passwords you create are secure. See this list for ideas.
Two-factor authentication (a.k.a. two-step verification) is another option provided by some websites that offer can offer an additional layer of account protection. For example, after entering my username and password at my bank site, I am always prompted to answer at least one of my pre-defined security questions. Another site that offers two-step verification is Gmail (more info). For more sites that offer two-factor authentication, check out this article by Lifehacker.
A couple of additional security tips:
- Do not set your computer/device to remember passwords.
- Make sure your computer/device is set to lock when it “sleeps” or you walk away from it. It may be inconvenient to keep logging in, but it will be even more inconvenient if your information gets stolen.
- Avoid logging into sensitive sites on public Wi-Fi if at all possible. Other users on the same network with the right software may be able to see your information as it is being transmitted.
While no online account is completely safe from hacking attempts, creating strong, unique passwords, using two-factor authentication, and only accessing accounts on secure network connections go a long way toward keeping your digital information out of the hands of criminals.
Do you have any additional security tips to share? If so, please share them with our readers in the comments section below.