If we learned anything from the 2016 election, it's that hackers are out there and they can inflict major damage. Yahoo's announcement late last year that hackers had compromised half a billion user accounts in 2014 may seem like news from the distant past on a network you probably no longer use. But the reason it should concern you now is the same reason big security breeches continue to happen: Password Reuse.
If you practice the stubborn habit of using the same password for multiple login accounts, you may be in danger. As Quartz explained in an in-depth report, hackers trade databases of user accounts on the black market and use sophisticated software to try passwords stolen from hacks like Yahoo’s on thousands of other services until one works. Next stop: identity theft. Quartz notes that Cambridge University’s Security Group puts password reuse as high as 49%. And that sets up a potential domino effect of hacks:
“LinkedIn was hacked in 2012 for more than 100 million user accounts. Parts of those stolen credentials wound up in darknet data dumps. One of those log-ins belonged to a Dropbox employee, who apparently reused a password, allowing a hacker to enter the file-sharing platform’s corporate network. This led to the theft of 68 million Dropbox user passwords, which the company confirmed in August.”
The good news is that there’s a very easy way to stay protected thanks to software called Password Managers. PC Magazine published a handy list of The Best Password Managers of 2017. Our pick is LastPass, which has a fantastic free version and a solid reputation. Whichever one you choose should automatically generate strong passwords, replace your weak or repetitive ones, and sync across all your sites and devices. Stay safe!