Sigh. A?new day, a new data breach.
Facebook and LinkedIn (which says the latest incident was a “scrape,” not a “breach”)?are just two of dozens of recent examples of our precious passwords falling into the wrong hands.?
Whether it’s an email service, an online store account?or even a service designed to keep our passwords safe, no site or service is immune. When it happens, our Spidey senses go off and we go into panic mode, imagining all the terrible things that might happen if a hacker gets into our accounts, uses our identities or goes on a massive shopping spree under our names.?
It’s a scary digital world we live in, but many valuable tools can make it safer for you. Here’s how to find out whether hackers have your password – and how to fix it right away.?
The most popular of all the hack-finding tools is Have I Been Pwned. It’s a website that tracks and catalogs high- and low-profile data breaches. You can search the site’s database using your email address or phone number. If the site links your login with a known breach, it tells you which company was hit, and what kind of information hackers might have.
I just typed my email address in, and sure enough, my passwords are all over the place. Luckily, they’re old ones, but still, the page of breaches seems to go on for days: LinkedIn, Adobe, Poshmark, Dropbox, Houzz, and countless other data breaches included my email address and various other data, including passwords, phone numbers, addresses, and even employers.
I live my life online, so having accounts on a ton of different websites, app and services means the odds of my data showing up in a hack are high. But 28 seems a bit excessive, even for me.?
The fix? Change all of your passwords, add a password management tool, and for the love of all that’s tech-ish, stop using the most hacked passwords like “123456,” “password,” or the ever-popular curse word mash-ups like “eff-something.” (C’mon, you know what I mean on that last one.)?
Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Publix no longer require masks for vaccinated customers, Starbucks starts Monday Old iPhones, PCs and printers: How to recycle or dump e-waste Taxes Q&A: How do I file a tax extension for 2021? How do I file my taxes online for free? When will child tax credit payments start? Checks set to roll out July The Daily Money: Subscribe to our newsletter Why not sell your home with an app?
HaveIBeenPwned is an excellent tool if you want to dive into past data breaches to see if your information is floating around out there. It also points you toward a password manager. But other services offer a more proactive approach to tracking hacked information, including notifications whenever your personal info pops up in a new leak, or they check sites for weaknesses before they cause a problem for you.
Here are my favorites.
You can use BreachAlarm in the same way you use HaveIBeenPwned. It’s easy to search the site’s database to find past hacks and leaks that might include your personal info. But if you want to take things to the next level, the $30 annual subscription will scan new hacks whenever they pop up and then alert you if your data appears. This gives you a head start in changing your passwords or closing your accounts on sites that may put your identity or finances at risk.
GameStop CEO is stepping down:GameStop CEO to depart in continuing leadership shakeup
Bitcoin takes a fall:As Bitcoin tumbles, Dogecoin fans want to make ‘DogeDay’ happen on April 20
If you want to get even more proactive about your protection, consider Sucuri. Sucuri is a site that actually performs active scans on websites to search for vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.
If a place you love shows up as being risky, it’s wise to routinely change your password there, or at the very least use a password you don’t use anywhere else. (This should be a rule for all sites, but it’s easy to forget). There’s a browser extension that makes the process even easier. If you run your own website, the $16 subscription will keep you up to date on your own website’s safety, but that’s not required to scan URLs .
Yes! Believe it or not, Google just added its own password scanner right into the most popular web browser on the planet. Google Chrome can alert you if it finds that your passwords were likely included in a breach or hack. You may not have noticed this new advanced feature, but it’s easy to use.?
If you’re logged in to Chrome, click on your photo in the upper right-hand corner of the page, then click on the little key icon.? That takes you to your “settings.” You can also get there by typing in?chrome://settings/passwords. See it? Now tap “Passwords.”?
On the passwords page, click “Check passwords” and then “Check now.” The built-in tool will tell you if any of your passwords have security problems. If they do, you’ll be prompted to change them, and a link will direct you to the site to make the password update easy.
Once you tackle your own password problems, be sure to pass this information on to your loved ones. If your parents, kids, or less tech-savvy friends are still using their birthdays, pets’ names, or home addresses, be sure to help them change those too!
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist. Email her firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter:?@JenniferJolly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.