Once again we have an announcement of a major data breach.  This time it is the popular mobile word game  “Words with Friends” which according to a hacker named Gnosticplayers was hacked by him or her, stealing personal information including names, email addresses, login IDs, hashed passwords, phone numbers and Facebook IDs of 218 million players of the game.  While no credit or debit card information was stolen, the type of encryption used to hash or scramble the passwords was not the most sophisticated and would be capable of being busted thereby exposing the users’ passwords.  In addition, the compromised  personal information could easily be used for purposes of spear phishing and identity theft.

Many of us are suffering from what is being called “data breach fatigue” as a result of which we may not tend to take seriously the threat that data breaches present, but it is dangerous to ignore the threats that these data breaches present.  Fortunately there are some things you can and should do to protect yourself from future data breaches that will affect you.

TIPS

If you played Words With Friends you should definitely change your password.   One of the biggest lessons from the myriad of data breaches is to make sure that you use unique passwords for every online account that you have in order to avoid having a sensitive account, such as your online banking account compromised because you use the same password as you do for another relatively meaningless account that had poor security which led to a data breach in which your password was stolen.  This is also a reason for deleting old accounts you don’t use that could expose your passwords and other information.

Creating and remembering strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts is not as difficult as it may appear.  You can start with a strong base password constructed from a phrase, such as IDon’tLikePasswords. Add a few symbols like !!! and then adapt it for each account you have so that you will have a secure and easy to remember password for each of your online accounts.   Thus, your Amazon password could be IDon’tLikePasswords!!!AMA.

If you have not yet frozen your credit with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, you should do so now to protect yourself from possible identity theft. it is free and easy to do.

To get the maximum protection from identity theft, it is important to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Here are links to each of them with instructions about how to get a credit freeze:
https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Also, use dual factor authentication whenever possible so that even if your passwords are compromised, no one can access your account.

Also, with your email address commonly known by many scammers, you can expect to receive more phishing and more dangerous specifically targeted spear phishing emails that attempt to lure you into clicking on links containing malware or try to convince you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Never click on links or provide personal information in response to an email or text message unless you are absolutely sure that the email or text message is legitimate.

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