Recently, a Milwaukee security firm discovered a massive hack executed by a Russian crime ring. Records show at least 1.2 billion user name and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses had been stolen along with confidential material from over 400,000 websites.
As shocking as a security breach of this magnitude is, this is not the first time something like this has been reported. Just this past December Target was the focus of much scrutiny after a breach executed by hackers in Eastern Europe resulted in the theft of credit card secured.onlinegambling2014.com numbers and other sensitive information of more than 70 million Target guests. Target is still reeling from its effects.
This recent hack is likely the largest known hack ever. It brings to light the need for improved Internet security, and for all Internet users to be vigilant in staying safe and secure online. In a January 2014 poll conducted by TIME, 18 percent of Internet-using adults claimed to be a victim of data theft. This includes personal data such as financial information, and social security numbers. This does not count light hacking such as email or social channel password hacks or viruses.
In light of this, online retailers and social media platforms alike continue to take measures to tighten their online security. But as consumers, it’s in our own best interest to safe guard sensitive information wherever possible. Below are three things you can do to help reduce and limit your online exposure.
- Change your passwords every thirty days: Reported hackings are becoming more frequent and dangerous. Instead of waiting for the next reported hacking, be proactive by changing your password at the same time you pay your mortgage or rent.
- Create strong passwords: Despite numerous, well-known hackings, “123456” and “password” are still the top two most common passwords used. You can and must do better. If you are lacking creativity, there is an app for that. Two popular password managers are 1Password or Dashlane. Free to use, both keep track of all your passwords and help create unique passwords that you no longer have to remember. All you will ever need to remember one password for whichever manager you choose.
- If you do not expect it, do not click it: Spam email is a common method for hackers to gain access to private information. Hackers are becoming increasingly talented in mimicking actual company email designs and are able to fool users in clicking into and on the email. Once you click, you may have given access to your entire computer and all information stored on it. If you did not expect to receive an email, do not click on the email.
Have you been hacked before? What did you do? Are you currently taking steps to stay safe and secure online? Share you’re story with us in the comments section below.