It's a sad reality that's been coming to a head for years now. Thousands of websites are hacked each and every day.
What does that mean for your data and personal information? Simply put, it's not safe. Data breaches are constantly being reported, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon.
Now more than ever, you're vulnerable to hackers' tricks and schemes. One major problem is, most folks don't know they've been hacked until it's too late.
Here are just a few sites that have been hacked, along with the number of accounts impacted:
- MySpace - 359,420,698
- Yahoo - Over 1,000,000,000
- LinkedIn - 164,611,595
- Adobe - 152,445,165
- Dropbox - 68,648,009
- Tumblr - 65,469,298
If you have an account with any of these sites, you need to find out if you've been compromised.
The chance that your email account has been compromised is greater than ever. That's why you need to know about the helpful website Have I Been Pwned.
You might be thinking, what is pwned? It's actually a term that originated from internet users and is an intentional misspelling of the word owned. It means to totally defeat or dominate someone.
How to use the site
Data breaches expose an abundance of sensitive customer information. Hackers have snagged billions of usernames, email addresses, passwords, and even credit card numbers this way. Your information could be right there in the hackers' hands.
Have I Been Pwned is an easy-to-use site with a database of information that hackers and malicious programs have released publicly. It monitors hacker sites and collects new data every five to 10 minutes about the latest hacks and exposures.
Just enter a valid email address that you use on other sites and Have I Been Pwned will check to see if it's been compromised in a data breach. You can also enter in domain names, like eBay, to be notified in case of a site-wide disaster.
After you sign up, Have I Been Pwned will alert you if your email address shows up in any list of hacked information. The site also displays the latest hack or account compromise on the front page, so you can take immediate action to protect your compromised accounts.
What to do if you've been hacked
Recovering an email account depends on what method the hacker used to break into it, and how good they are. Some hackers use an automated system to take control and use your account to send spam.
This is annoying, but the program isn't smart enough to change your account settings to lock you out.
- To defeat an automated system hack, simply log in to your account and change the password. The next time the spambot tries to log in, it won't be able to. Problem solved.
There's a chance a real person is in control of your account, though. If they're smart, they changed your password so you can't get in.
They also might change your security questions or recovery email address so they can let themselves back in at any time, even if you take back your account. That's OK because hope is not lost.
- To fix this, use the "Forgot your password?" link that's usually in the site's login area. If the hacker didn't change your security question, you can reset your password that way. Or you can have the new password sent to another email account if you set one up previously.
Yahoo had over 1 billion user accounts breached over the past few years. Not only were Yahoo Email accounts impacted, but other Yahoo-owned services were as well. Click here to find out how to close all of your Yahoo associated accounts.
Social media accounts
Email accounts aren't the only concern. Hackers love to get into your social media accounts. As with email, if you can get into your social media account, change the password to lock them out.
For more involved account recovery, you'll need special instructions for each account.
Once you've taken your social media account back, I strongly recommend setting up two-step authentication to make it harder for hackers in the future. If your account hasn't been hacked, I would do this before it happens.
What you post on social media could be used to diagnose a medical condition
While you are busy posting about your latest adventures or pics from your recent vacay on social media, doctors are looking for markers of medical conditions using the words you write on your social media page.