Expert advice on keeping passwords secure from hackers

July 17, 2012 3:38:32 PM PDT
Hackers have been on a tear lately, posting thousands of passwords and email addresses online to prove how easy it is to compromise security systems. For consumers, the attacks leave them open to all kinds of scams and even identity theft.

In the last two months hundreds of thousands of user names and passwords have been published online after hackers were able to get their hands on the information. On the surface it sounds easy to fix -- just change your password -- but there is a bigger problem if you use one password for every website.

Gloria Sotello loves Yahoo mail, but her account has been the victim of hacking attacks in the past.

She said, "Several times, people will send out emails from me that are inappropriate that I have not sent. I get emails and text messages saying the emails were sent in my name, which I had nothing to do with."

Yahoo has recently seen another attack. In this one 400,000 email addresses and passwords were put on the internet for anyone to see. While changing a Yahoo password is easy enough, Sotello has a bigger problem on her hands.

"I have the same password for everything," she said. "But as soon as I get through talking to you I am going to change everything."

It turns out many people have this habit. What they do not know is that with an email address and password hackers, can use the information to cause quite a bit of online damage.

Jay Lee, the host of Technology Bytes, explained, "Conceivably they have the keys to your kingdom and they will be able to access any site that you log into."

Technology Bytes a local radio program that deals with computers and the Internet. Lee says if a person's password is posted from one site like Yahoo, it does not take much for scammers to access online banks or accounts that have access to your credit card.

Lee said, "It doesn't take a lot of guesswork to assume what those might be."

Even Lee has felt the sting of a hack attack, but he does not use a universal password so his other online accounts were safe. His advice to every computer user...

"Although it is kind of a pain, but a good practice is to use a different password for every service that you use," Lee advised.

The most recent hacking also exposed passwords for Hotmail, Gmail and AOL users. If you have not already checked to see if your account information was included, you can do so online.


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