One of the most underappreciated and sensitive items that we all have are passwords. Many people today have ten or more accounts that require an online password, which can include bank accounts, email, online commerce websites, and a range of other sites.
While many people do a good job of changing their passwords for each account on a regular basis, there is still a good chance that they are at risk due to a recent hack.
Over the past few days, Yahoo has slowly continued to release information about their 2013 data hack. While most people who are no longer consumers and users of Yahoo believed that they were completely in the clear, anyone that has ever had an account with Yahoo needs to be aware of the risks that are involved.
Yahoo recently stated that the data breach could have been more significant than what the company initially reported. Today, they now believe that all 3 billion accounts listed on Yahoo had their passwords stolen.
What is amazing about this fact is that there were not even 3 billion Internet users back in 2013. The reason that there were so many is that many users have multiple accounts through the website. In fact, due to the size of Yahoo, the majority of all online users have had a Yahoo account at some point in their lives. While many of these no longer have used these accounts, the fact that their passwords were stolen is still a big concern.
After receiving the list of 3 billion email addresses and passwords, those that hacked the site now can use that information to log into a wide range of accounts including Paypal, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, and your personal email accounts. From there, they can steal even more of your personal information and continue to do damage to your reputation and finances. The main concern for people that had their email and password stolen is that they could still use that same password and email at these other sites.
While Yahoo is just the latest company to face scrutiny over a data hack, they are far from being then only one. In the last few years alone, many major organizations have seen hacks including MySpace, Equifax, Target, and many other online retailers. These hacks are likely directly linked to the continued increase of online identity theft that has resulted in billions of dollars of illegally opened accounts and stolen personal assets.
While it seems that data hacks are inevitable and unavoidable, there are still things that the average consumer can do to protect themselves. To ensure that your accounts are not broken into, it is crucial that you continue to update your passwords on a regular basis. This means that every account that you have should its passwords changed at least once every few months. Furthermore, if you receive word that one of your personal accounts could be vulnerable to a recent hack, you should do your best to change the password to all of your accounts to prevent your personal data from being stolen. You should also never, ever reuse an old password that you have used in the past.
All consumers also need to be in the practice of monitoring their credit and financial records. You should review all of your bank and credit card statements on a regular basis to make sure that there have not been any suspicious accounts. Another good idea would be to take advantage of credit monitoring services, which will alert you if someone tries to open up an account in your name. These practices can help to prevent data breaches from becoming more serious issues before it is too late.