By now you’ve heard about the recent MyFitnessPal data breach. If you weren’t part of this breach, you are in the minority. Over 150 million users had their information poached by hackers. The breach included user names, passwords and email addresses from the mobile app and the website. They didn’t get any credit card or bank account info so you have nothing to worry about. WRONG! If you use the same password for other accounts like PayPal or your online banking account, this breach puts you at risk.
We’re not trying to scare you. This is an opportunity to increase your security before another data breach occurs. If you haven’t already, you should change your MyFitnessPal password. If you have used the same combination of username, email, and password for other online accounts, change those passwords as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on all of your accounts and look for any suspicious activity. If there are any charges or changes to your accounts, contact your financial institution immediately. Now that we’ve taken care of the immediate threat, these security practices will help you better protect your data moving forward.
Never Use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts
Each account you create online should have its own distinct password. The amount of passwords we are expected to remember grows daily. It can seem daunting to keep up with all of them but using the same password across all platforms leaves you open to maximum damage. Using different passwords will stop data thieves from getting into every one of your accounts and this helps to limit your exposure.
Use Stronger Passwords
A strong password is at least 8 characters long. Characters, not letters. A good password should include:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
Don’t use something obvious and avoid sequential numbers. You’re probably thinking, “Why would anyone use such an easy password?” According to SplashData’s annual survey, the two most common passwords for the last eight years are “password” and “123456”.
Do not use easily searched personal information for a password. You might not think so but hackers can find out your birth date or your middle name pretty easily.
Pro Tip: Stay away from real words. Take small fragments of words or important names and smash them together to make a nonsense password that only you will remember. Add a couple of important dates and a symbol and you’re password will meet all the criteria listed above.
First pet’s name: Spot
Name of your high school: Hoover
Favorite sports team: Magic
Day you were born: 12
Year you got married: 2006
If you want to be sure your password is secure, plug your password into Ask The Geek's password meter.
Never Open Emails or Attachments from Unknown Senders
Phishing emails have been a consistent security threat since the beginning of the internet. These emails propose offers with some kind of benefit like a large sum of money. In order to send you the money, you will need to give them your account number and login info. If an offer sounds too good to be true, more often than not it’s a scam. These emails will get your account information and use it for the own nefarious purposes. Scammers will often pose as your financial institution. Your financial institution will never ask you for your personal account information via email.
Best Practice: Never open an email from an address that you don’t recognize.
This doesn’t just apply to email. Scammers still use snail mail to phish this information as well.
Monitor Your Bank Accounts Daily
Taking a look at your accounts once a day will help you catch any funny business. You know what you’ve purchased and how much you’ve spent. If you see anything that looks out of the ordinary, call your financial institution immediately.
These breaches seem to happen more often than not. As online security increases and technology advances, hackers become more sophisticated. Staying informed of their tactics will help you better protect yourself and your identity. To learn more about protecting your identity from an expert in the field, listen to our fraud prevention podcast with Sargent Cameron Beedle of the Homewood Police Department.