2016 has been referred to as “The Year of The Breach”. Consumers are experiencing, at an increasing rate, the fallout from breached organizations. Look at the Yahoo! breach which effected over 1 billion people. I had to read that statistic twice. One. Billion. People.
What I haven’t really gotten from any of the industry specialists to date is what can we as consumers do to protect ourselves from the information that was obtained by the various breaches. How are the bad actors going to use it against us? Lets break down first what the attackers obtained from most of the breaches:
1. Your Username
2. Your Email Address
3. Some personal information like your name, address, phone number, etc.
4. Your password (this is the most damaging information, and I will tell you why)
5. Your Question and Answer profile (complete with the questions AND answers)
How is this information, in the wrong hands, damaging to you? Well, if you manually manage different usernames, passwords, and Q/A profiles on every single site you frequent; You need a hobby. But seriously, for the rest of us, hackers are at this very moment using the unique username and password combinations obtained from the breaches in attempts to logon to every website imaginable. How many websites do you have an account on that use the same username and password combination? This is why at the very least after reading this blog you should start changing your passwords, as well as your question and answer profiles. If you only do one password today, make sure its your email password. I am willing to bet most of your “I forgot my password” clicks on websites send to a central location; your email. You can see where I am going here.
Look for my next blog post where I will start a multipart series on how to automate this entire process and keep your passwords different, highly complex, and virtually hack proof. I will also offer a free e-book in the coming month that will walk you through with step by step instructions on “How to Protect Your Digital Identity Online”.