A lot of email addresses have been reported stolen lately. In fact, a security company called Hold Security reported that it found 272 million from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and a Russian webmail service mail.ru. The company also claims that 42.5 million have never before been included in a data breach.
What does this mean to you? First, it may mean that you will see an increase in the amount of spam and phishing email messages you get in your inbox if your address was part of this. With numbers that high, it will be difficult for mail hosts to filter out all of it. So don’t open links or attachments unless you are expecting them and are 100% sure it’s safe.
It also means that people in your address book may receive phishing email and spam that appears to be from you. Spread the word to friends and family about how to identify phishing attempts.
What else can you do? Change your passwords quarterly. Can’t remember? Put a reminder on your calendar.
Don’t use the same password across multiple sites, especially on those that hold financial or other sensitive information. Each site you log onto should have a unique login ID and password combination.
Password reuse is gaining in popularity by hackers, who are surprisingly successful. Think of the websites that use your email address as your login ID. If someone has your email address and you re-use the same password on one of the sites the hackers target, your information could be in danger. This is why you should take the advice of using unique and strong passwords seriously.
What is a strong password? One that has at least eight characters, includes upper and lower case letters, and at least one each of a special character and a number. If you have to write them down, do so. Just keep them in a place that is safe and not stored on a computer that has internet access. Use paper if necessary.
In this recent incident, Hold Security warned that hackers are using brute force attacks on popular services such as eBay and even Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. There are even more concerns about how many have gone around because supposedly, the hacker who stole them is offering to give them up basically for free. He’s offering them up for “likes” on his social media sites. Yes. Really.