Rarely does a week go by without news of another hacking incident. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that a Russian crime ring had amassed some 1.2 billion username and password combinations.
The Times report, based on information from Milwaukee-based Hold Security, called the data “the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials.” Hold’s researchers did not identify the origins of the data or name the victim websites, citing nondisclosure agreements. The company also said it didn’t want to name companies whose websites are still vulnerable to hacking, according to the Times report.
Security threats have long been part of online life, but the increased attention on them makes now a good time to review ways to protect yourself.
If there’s reason to believe any of your passwords might have been compromised, change them immediately. One of the best things you can do is to make sure your passwords are strong. Here are seven ways to fortify them:Make your password long
The other exception is to log in using a centralized sign-on service such as Facebook Connect. Hulu, for instance, gives you the option of using your Facebook username and password instead of creating a separate one for the video site. This technically isn’t reusing your password, but a matter of Hulu borrowing the log-in system Facebook already has in place. The account information isn’t stored with Hulu. Facebook merely tells Hulu’s computers that it’s you. Of course, if you do this, it’s even more important to keep your Facebook password secure.
Some services such as Gmail even give you the option of using two passwords when you use a particular computer or device for the first time. If you have that feature turned on, the service will send a text message with a six-digit code to your phone when you try to use Gmail from an unrecognized device. You'll need to enter that for access, and then the code expires. It’s optional, and it’s a pain – but it could save you from grief later on. Hackers won’t be able to access the account without possessing your phone. Turn it on by going to the account’s security settings.