Get in touch:

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Check today – before it’s too late.

If your passwords have been compromised or stolen, you need to act now. Once cyber criminals have your precious details to hand, they can access your personal, financial and business applications online – hacking into your social media pages, sending spam emails from your accounts and, worst of all, stealing from your bank accounts and credit cards.

Unfortunately, despite frequent warnings around choosing strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, many people are still using their ‘old favourites’ for multiple accounts. This makes things even worse if your passwords are compromised, as cyber thieves will have a field day accessing all your applications with the same or similar details.

If you even have a remote suspicion that your passwords have been hacked, you’ll need to act quickly before serious damage is done. Luckily, there are a number of simple online tools you can use to find out if you’ve been the unlucky victim of a data breach. These include:

  • Have I Been Pwned?

Go to www.haveibeenpwned.com and enter your email address. This will tell you if any passwords linked to your email account have been breached and which sites were affected. For example, “password” (which is amazingly still widely-used!) has shown up in well over three million different data breaches. But even if your entry only shows one or two sites where your details have been leaked, it’s still important to change your passwords straightaway.

  • Avast Hackcheck

This works in the same way as Have I Been Pwned, with the site claiming to have detected an eye-watering 9,489, 063,139 stolen passwords at the time of writing. Ouch. Visit www.avast.com/hackcheck and enter your email address to check your own password status. You can also sign up with the website to receive alerts if any of your log-in details are stolen in the future.

  • Google Password Checkup

This works slightly differently as it’s designed to help you re-secure breached accounts rather than simply identify them. When you sign up to use the app, Google will send you an alert if you later log into an account where your access details have been compromised. You’ll then be prompted to reset your password for the account in question, as well as any other applications for which you use the same log-in details (not that you should be doing this anyway!) Find out more about Google Password Checkup here.

Top tips to help prevent being hacked

Whether or not your passwords have been stolen, you should still take steps to maximise your online security. Things you can do include:

  • Choosing strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. That means never including any obvious personal data that cyber criminals could easily guess, such as your mother’s maiden name or your date of birth. Choose long passwords with a mixture of numerical, lower case, upper case and special characters. And whatever you do, don’t store your passwords in a file on your computer or in the Cloud. Don’t write them down, either, unless you can keep them in a secure location like a safe.
  • Using the Google Chrome Suggest Strong Password If Chrome is your usual web browser, you can use it to set and remember robust passwords for each new account you sign up for online. (The only downside to this is that if you need to uninstall Chrome for any reason, you’ll then need to reset all your passwords…)
  • Using a Password Keeper application to set and remember your passwords. Also known as Password Managers, these generate complex passwords and store them in encrypted locations, from which they’re then retrieved on demand. Some are free, whilst others are paid-for, with premium options offering extra services such as cloud syncing and backup. Popular apps include LastPass, Dashlane, RoboForm and KeyPass.
  • Setting up two-factor authentication where possible. This is becoming increasingly common, especially for online banking and credit card applications. A common approach is to text a confirmation code to your mobile phone, or send it to a third party app like Google Authenticator, that you then enter online to complete a transaction. Find out which websites support two-factor authentication here.
  • Only using your own devices and networks to set up new accounts and passwords. It’s not a good idea to use someone else’s computer or a public internet network to carry out sensitive operations online. Your data may be unsecured and exposed to theft from hackers. If it you really need to do this, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before you start.
  • Changing your passwords regularly. Here at Jalapeno, we recommend you change your computer log-in details at least once a quarter, and passwords for sensitive accounts, such as banking and accounts software, every month or two.

Need any more advice? Just ask Jalapeno.

The IT security experts at Jalapeno Business Services are on hand to help protect your accounts and devices from hacking and other forms of cyber crime. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements – please call us on 01636 681 110 or email enquiries@jalapeno.is. You can also contact us online if you prefer.