Yahoo has confirmed a massive breach of their customers' data, exposing over 500 million Yahoo accounts.
Information stolen may include names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, hashed passwords and even encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.
Yahoo is claiming that a "state-sponsored actor" is behind the attack, which means a foreign government could be responsible for the data breach. This hack may also have serious implications on the Verizon-Yahoo merger deal that was announced earlier this year.
One of the most frightening things that have come to light with the Yahoo breach is that many people don't realize their information could have been stolen. That's because they may have set up their Yahoo accounts years ago, or used services they didn't realize were associated with the company. Do any of these Yahoo-owned services sound familiar?
- Tumblr, a blogging service
- Flickr, a photo sharing site
- Playing Fantasy Football via Yahoo Sports
- Using your Yahoo account to access Yahoo-branded services like Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo Music, etc.
- Your smart TV using Yahoo Smart TV services (usually associated with the Vizio brand)
If you have any of these accounts, please review your credentials as soon as possible and secure your account by changing your passwords.
Yahoo isn't the only online company that has been hit by hackers recently. Back in August, it was discovered that the LinkedIn data breach was larger than experts originally believed. And sites such as LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, and even MySpace were also recently hit by massive data breaches.
With major data breaches like this, more scams are bound to happen. Phishing attacks, mail scams and identity theft are just some of the ways hackers use your information.
That's why it's critical that you lock down all of your online accounts with secure passwords and shut down accounts that are no longer active. The problem is that it's difficult to keep track of all the accounts you have.
A site called AccountKiller makes tracking down all of your online accounts simple.
AccountKiller has a collection of direct links and instructions on how to easily delete your accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Groupon and hundreds of other sites and services. It also uses a color-coding system to tell you at a glance how easy or difficult it is to deactivate your account with each service.
If a site won't let you easily delete your account, AccountKiller will also tell you how to hide your personal data.
Another common mistake people make is using the same passwords for multiple accounts. If you don't know by now, it is bad practice to use the same password across different services.
Creating unique passwords for each account you create is actually easier than you think. Click here for three proven formulas for creating hack-proof passwords you can actually remember.
For those who use Yahoo services specifically, there are more steps you need to take to lock down your accounts and protect your personal information. Click here and we'll walk you through the steps of setting up an account key and activating two-step verification.