By Daniel Hains
The average person may give little attention to the news today of yet another large scale dump of email address and passwords.
It would be frightening for most people to see that their personal email address and, therefore, the precious password that you associate with it, has been placed in open forums in plain sight. Checking at https://haveibeenpwned.com/ resulted in my own email address (and password) being breached in multiple locations – including Dropbox and LinkedIn (both hacked in 2012 that we know of).
If incidents like the latest data dump don’t cause you to alter your previous response to these occurrences (that is, where you did nothing), then you are bringing yourself closer to, at the least, being the subject of serious spam activity. At worst, you will have, or already have had, your identity stolen.
Criminals don’t really want to just assume your identity for the fun of looking at all your party photos and cake recipes. They want your money – they will take it and it will then cost you even more to get back to some semblance of a ‘normal life’.
The term ‘identity theft’ may also be something that you think happens to other people, but if you think of it as meaning that ‘you will have all your money stolen from your bank account and your credit cards maxed out and your friends will hate you’, then consider action on the following:
- Change your passwords for popular information sharing and social media sites, especially those who have been breached in the past like LinkedIn;
- Make your passwords unique to each site. Yes, that is a pain. Yes, you will have to remember multiple passwords. But this is essential for true online security. You could also consider obtaining a secure password application – they cost much less than losing all of your money and credit rating;
- Enable two factor authentication on all relevant sites especially internet banking. Do it now;
- Don’t use public WiFi for important things like internet banking; and
- Keep operating systems and antivirus software up to date.
It is the first day of Spring tomorrow, in Australia anyway. Whatever reason you need, I strongly suggest that you take the opportunity now for a clean out of old passwords and bringing in the new. That’s how I know that even though my old passwords are known to hackers from past breaches, I have since changed them, they were unique to that site and two factor authentication reduces the risk of a breach to near-zero.
Can you say the same?
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