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Security & privacy

Massive data breach: 42 million emails and passwords exposed

Data breaches are a plague on society that seem to be getting worse. The massive breach at Equifax we recently told you about exposed sensitive information of over 145 million Americans. Yikes!

That is just one horrifying example. There have been plenty of others over the past few years. From retail stores to popular chain restaurants to even medical records from hospitals. No one is safe.

Here we go again. We just learned of another massive breach that exposed millions of emails, passwords and even some credit card data.

This latest breach is a huge deal!

An operator of a free, public hosting service recently uploaded a large database that contained email addresses, passwords in clear text, and partial credit card data. He sent the database to Troy Hunt, who runs the Have I Been Pwned website to see if the information was part of previous data breaches.

Hunt said the data is most likely intended for credential stuffing attacks. Those are a combination of cracked passwords and email addresses and are used to hijack accounts on other websites where the same credentials were used. Which if you’ve been paying attention to, you know is a terrible idea.

This isn’t the first time a database like this has been found and it won’t be the last. Many cyber criminals sell this type of data on the Dark Web so others can carry out their attacks. That’s why it’s important to know how to respond to massive data breaches. Keep reading to learn how.

Is there anything we can do now?

Whenever a major data breach happens, there are security steps that we should all take. Here are some suggestions.

Keep an eye on your bank accounts 

You should already be frequently checking your bank statements, looking for suspicious activity. It’s even more critical when there is a massive data breach. Thieves could have stolen enough information to break into your financial accounts.

If you see anything that seems suspicious, report it immediately to your bank. It’s the best way to keep your financial accounts safe.

Change your password

Whenever you hear news of a data breach, it’s a good idea to change your account passwords. This is especially true if you use the same credentials for multiple websites. If your credentials are stolen from a breach, criminals can test them on other sites to log into those accounts as well.

Another mistake people make is creating passwords that are too easy for hackers to crack. Read this article to help you create hack-proof passwords.

Set up two-factor authentication 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) means that to log into your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. This is an extra layer of security that will help keep your accounts safe.

With 2FA set up on your accounts, a thief will need more than just a stolen password to break in. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.

Beware of phishing scams 

Scammers will try to piggyback on data breaches like this. They will create phishing emails, pretending to be dealing with this breach, hoping to get victims to click on malicious links that could lead to more problems.

That’s why you should familiarize yourself with what phishing scams look like so you can avoid falling victim to one. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.

Get a free annual credit report

Under federal law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It’s a good idea to check your credit report following data breaches to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. Click here to learn how to get a copy of your free annual credit report.

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