Today, it is being widely reported that Russian hackers have stolen over 1.2 billion Internet passwords and email addresses.
Put another way: That number is equivalent to 4 passwords stolen from every man, woman and child in America.
If you’re wondering what to do now, or what passwords to change, you’re not alone. This post covers discusses some ways to better secure your computer and create safer passwords.
Specific details about what sites were specifically targeted have not been released, but the attack seems to have involved a hacking technique involving a botnet of infected computers to attack other computers. These computers work together in order to attempt to gain control of databases by injecting malicious code that exploits weaknesses found in the things that access SQL databases, such as website search bars.
In the meantime, what you can do is try to secure your own computer, and create better passwords for your online accounts.
First, check your computer for spyware and viruses using reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You can get a paid product such as Norton, or something free from AVG. This will help limit the risk of your computer being compromised by trojans and other malware.
Second, make sure that you change and create harder to crack passwords on all your key online accounts.
Here are some tips to creating safer passwords:
- Never use the same password twice. Keep a separate password for every online account you have.
- Create complex, long, and difficult to guess passwords.
- Use a combination of numbers, UPPER and lowercase letters, and special characters.
- Do not use actual words found in the dictionary. For example, instead of using a password like guardians, use something difficult to guess, such as G_u@R-di@nz.
- Use an encrypted password safe program. A list of these can be found here.
Also see: A Guide To Better Password Practices.
Until we learn more about the attack, keep an eye on reputable tech sites such as Ars Technica.