The online auction website eBay just announced yesterday that it had been hacked and customer’s names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth of as many as 112 million customers were stolen. At this time, it does not appear that credit card information was taken, but that is only of minor consolation. eBay is urging its customers to change their passwords for eBay and, if you are one of the many people who use the same user name and password for all of your accounts, you should change your user name and password for those accounts as well. If you are an eBay user, it is very important that you do this right away because it is already quite late. Although eBay only discovered this hacking within the last couple of days, the hacking went on between late February and early March so hackers already have this information which they may be using themselves or selling on the black market to identity thieves. eBay is already notifying its customers by email to change their passwords, but if you get such an email and it contains a link to change your password, I urge you not to click on the link because it may be an email from an identity thief posing as eBay through a counterfeit phishing email that appears to come from eBay and if you click on a link in the email, you may end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal the information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft. Instead, I suggest you go directly to the eBay website on your own and not through a link in order to change your password.
Even though the passwords stolen were encrypted, you should not feel too safe because if your password is not complex, there are computer programs that identity thieves use to break the encryption and gain access to your password. Once they have that password and your user name, if you are one of the many people who use the same user name and password for all of your accounts, you are in serious jeopardy in regard to all of your online accounts including your online banking.
If you are an eBay user, go to the eBay website and change your password to a complex, but easy to remember password that includes a combination of capital and small letters as well as other signs. Something like “Idon’tLikePasswords!!!” would actually be a great password and easy to remember. Also, make sure you use different passwords for each of your accounts so that when, not if, your password information is a part of a data breach, all of your accounts are not in danger. Again, a good way to remember your password is to take the basic password and adapt it to the particular account, such as “Idon’tLikePasswordsAmazon!!!” If you are an eBay user, you should be particularly vigilant because hackers have your contact information such that you are now more likely to receive personally adapted phishing emails which is called spear phishing by which the email you receive purporting to be from a company with which you may do business may be directed to you by name rather than “Dear customer” or the like. As always, remember my motto, “Trust me you can’t trust anyone” and never click on links in emails unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate. Also make sure that you have anti-malware and anti-virus security software on all of your electronic devices and keep these programs up to date with the latest patches.