In the IT world, the biggest story this last month was the unfolding situation with the Yahoo! hacks. I’m assuming many of you have kept yourselves somewhat informed about this situation, as many of you probably have Yahoo! accounts and are thus concerned about the ramifications of such a situation. Heck, I personally have been asked about this by a few customers just in the past couple weeks.
With this in mind, I wanted to write a bit about the situation, the timeline of it, and also what you can do to find more security in the situation. Hopefully, the Brain Mill can give you some good advice and reassurance to start the New Year off right.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
In September of ’16 it was reported by Yahoo! that hackers swiped personal information associated with at least a half billion Yahoo accounts, marking the biggest data breach in history. The hack, which took place in 2014, revealed names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and, in some cases, security questions and answers. Encrypted passwords, which are jumbled so only a person with the right passcode can read them, were also taken.
At the time of this reveal of the 2014 hack, Yahoo! urged users to change their passwords if they haven’t been changed in the years since 2014.
After this story broke, life went on and just when we started to forget about the massive hit Yahoo! took, more bad news came to light.
Yahoo! disclosed in mid-December that it discovered a breach of more than one billion user accounts that occurred in August 2013, with similar details of what data was hacked. This breach along with the other massive hack disclosed in September are now the 2 largest hacks recorded in history. This one is believed to be separate and unconnected to the later hack of 500 million accounts which was revealed in September.
As of yet, the parties responsible for the hacks have not been confirmed. There are speculations and theories and suspects. And investigations are, surely, ongoing. But these details are not necessary for the purpose of this article.
Instead I want to focus on…
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
These events did, however, serve as reminders of how widespread hacking is, as well as highlight the vulnerability of passwords. Cybersecurity specialists recommend using a different password for each account you have on the internet. Other experts are working on alternatives to passwords, such as biometrics like your fingerprint or retina.
Obviously, such technology is not yet widely available. So, the question becomes what can you do to reduce the risk of hacking or cyber-insecurity?
First things first, if you’re account was one that was affected, you should have already received a message from Yahoo! letting you know of the situation. They should have also required that you change your password.
Along with these actions from Yahoo! here is a link to a simple guide on how to recognize if you’re account has been hacked. Also included are simple instructions on how to fix and restore the security of your Yahoo! account.
Along with the above actions we recommend using a unique password for each account you have. So, if you have a Gmail, Yahoo!, and Facebook account, it would be smart to not have the same login password for each. You see, hackers understand that most people use the same name and password for most of their accounts. Thus, if they manage to hack one of them they will be able to get into each of them with ease. Simply making a small distinguishing change between passwords will help ensure greater security.
Some other very effective ways to avoid being hacked are included in this excellent and helpful article from Business Insider. I highly recommend reading over the 7 rules to follow in there. The basic gist of all of them is be wary of emails, attachments, etc. Verify the authenticity of what you’re clicking on and who you are communicating with while connected to the web.
And as always if something looks fishy or you notice something acting wonky with your computer or device, feel free to call us at the Brain Mill at (314) 454-0348 and let us know what is happening. We will help walk you through what is going on and how best to handle any sticky situation you may come upon in your dealings with the internet.