Russian Data Hack Steals 1.2 Billion Passwords - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Russian Data Hack Steals 1.2 Billion Passwords

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Protecting your personal information in a digital world.

Researchers revealed Wednesday 1.2 billion user names and passwords were stolen by a Russian crime ring.

Now experts say it's up to you to stay safe.

The simplest advice is to keep all your passwords different, and change them on a regular basis.

It's a pain, but computer experts says it's the only way ensure your information stays safe.

"Oh my gosh, probably 25 or over," says Brandon Burkhart, while working on his computer in Davenport's Public Library.

He likes to keep his passwords in his head. To do so, he takes a shortcut that's not recommended. He doesn't change them often.

"Just because it's so hectic to remember," says Burkhart.

"Nothing is private, assume nothing is secure, this is a reason to have used different passwords on virtually every single site," says computer expert Ed Zipper.

He says using different passwords keeps internet thieves from gaining access to shopping and email accounts at the same time. It gives users a chance to catch fraud sooner. Using few, similar passwords leaves people open to big problems.

"They can order something on Amazon, and of course you'd get an email that you ordered it, then they can delete the email," says Zipper.

The Russian crime ring used networks of infected computers in the U.S. to identify websites with lax security. Then they came back to grab the information from those marked sites. That's why Zipper advises against trusting even password manager software.

"I know it's difficult, I know there are password managers out there, to me, password manager software, that's the next target," says Zipper.

Even with these repeat information grabs, internet users still cling to their old passwords.

"I just use kind of like esoteric words and threw some numbers in them so no one can guess them," says Marissa Darlingh while working on her computer in a coffee shop.

She says she doesn't understand well enough how these hackers get information. Plus she says she doesn't have a lot to lose at the moment. So for now, she doesn't plan on changing her two password strategy.

"I would have to relearn my password all the time because apparently these password situations happen all the time," says Darlingh.

If you have difficulty remembering your passwords, one suggestion is to write them down using pen and paper.

It's low tech, but secure, as long as you keep the paper in a secure place.

You can also call companies to have them change your password for you.

If your computer is infected with malware, changing the password on your machine could be read by hackers and leave you no better off.

More than 400,000 websites fell victim to the hack.

The fix is very simple, but until websites upgrade their security, they remain vulnerable to these types of attacks.

A list of affected websites has not been released.

 

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