With all the endless news of data breaches these days, it’s easy to wonder, ‘Has my e-mail address been stolen?’ Now there’s an easy way to find out!
HaveIBeenPwned.com is a free resource that lets anyone quickly assess if they may have been put at risk due to an online account having been compromised or ‘pwned’ in a data breach.
Read more: Virus and malware protection guide
Just pop in your email at this site and it shows if your address has been breached, on what sites, and what kind of info the criminals got from it. You can also set up notifications for future breaches too.
For those of you wondering about the strange word ‘pwned,’ here’s an explanation from UrbanDictionary.com: ‘A corruption of the word ‘Owned.’ This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled ‘owned.’ When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so ‘has been owned.’ Instead, it said, so-and-so ‘has been pwned.’ It basically means ‘to own’ or to be dominated by an opponent or situation.’
Make your password hard to hack with one additional keystroke
Cleveland.com reports criminals have gotten so good at cracking passwords that if you use just a word as your password; or a word and 3 numbers; or a word, 3 numbers, and a symbol — it will take less than 1 second for hackers to hack into your account!
The reason I point that out is because so many places are making you change your password to one they say is strong. They often require numbers, letters, and a symbol. But now the hackers can easily crack that too. It’s not enough anymore.
So to make a tough password, you need one additional thing: One uppercase letter. If you use one uppercase letter, the 3 numbers, and a symbol, that will take hackers a week to hack in.
By adding that one uppercase letter anywhere in your password, you create so many possibilities that the algorithm becomes difficult for the hackers.
But who can remember all those passwords for all the different sites you use? The best thing for you to do is to go to Dashlane.com or LastPass.com, as just a couple of examples. They are freemium password management systems that allow you to use all kinds of goofy combinations of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, symbols … and by doing so you will improve your odds of locking out a criminal.
By the way, be sure that you never use the same password for a financial site that you use for other sites!