Data security has once more been brought to the public consciousness in recent days with the revealing of the largest data breach in history.
A gang of Russian hackers, nicknamed CyberVor, stole 1.2 billion username and password combinations, along with more than 500 million email addresses, from 420,000 sites. They did this using botnets, computers that have been infected with and controlled by a virus.
What does this mean for the average internet user? Increased vigilance and prompt action, to keep accounts secure.
Here’s some steps to protect yourself:
- Change passwords, especially if you’ve been re-using them on multiple sites (even though you know you shouldn’t, as that makes life easier for hackers). Make them stronger and longer, a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using personal information in your password words. Security firm McAfee recommends blending unrelated words together with numbers and symbols (i.e. “Mutant2Cows!ontheloose). Don’t just stick numbers and symbols at the end, but mix them in.
- If remembering multiple passwords is too daunting a task, consider getting a password manager to store your passwords. Among the free ones are Lastpass (https://lastpass.com/), keepass (http://keepass.info/) and Norton Identity Safe (https://identitysafe.norton.com/).
- Enable two-factor identification on any sites that offer it. When you use a different computer, the site will issue a code via text or email that you must enter to access your account, another layer of security.
- Check your accounts for unauthorized activities. This doesn’t mean just your financial accounts. If hackers get into your email account, they can access any site you’ve visited via email. So check your sent folder for any emails you didn’t send. Always keep an eye on your social media for any status updates.
Don’t depend on sites to protect your security information. Take these simple steps to guard yourself.
For help with a computer problem or if you have questions about security, visit http://www.hcp4biz.com/support-request/.