Leaky passwords and breached security are a constant byproduct of the modern internet.
A compromised password is especially dangerous if you, like many people, have used the same password across all or multiple accounts. For instance, if upon registering with a website or service, you supply your email and also use your email password, that password/email combo can potentially be recorded (and compromised).
Many Guild Wars 2 users were recently the victim of such a scheme. Hackers accessed more than 11,000 accounts, not with key loggers or by invading the servers, but by simply trying the login combinations from a collection of leaked passwords. As a result, gamers that had reused passwords were compromised. This can happen to any service that a hacker wants access to.
Okay, how can I protect myself?
The best way to protect against a leak is to use a different password for each account and make sure those passwords are long and strong. Even if one password does become compromised, this will help contain the damage as the hacker would only have the key to one account instead of twenty. Typically, a website will inform you if a leak occurs and prompt you to update the password. Again though, this won’t do much good if those same credentials unlock fifteen other accounts.
So maybe now the problem is that you’ll never be able to recall those twenty unique passwords. This is where a password manager like LastPass or KeePass can be extremely useful. If your passwords are contained in a manager, all you need to remember is one password to open it.
What if the worst happens?
In the event that your email or password makes it onto a list, stay calm – you just need to be sure that the password hasn’t been reused for any of your other accounts. Again, using a password to secure multiple accounts isn’t very secure at all. If you do make this mistake though, and your password is compromised, change them all immediately.
LastPass also offers tools to search leak lists for a specific password. You can find out if it’s been used and how often. Interestingly enough, the results of such a search show just how weak a lot of passwords are. Try typing in “password123,” and see how many there are.
An email account is essentially the hub through which the rest of your online security travels, because most websites will let you change a password as long as you can access their link in your email. If someone gets into your email, they can potentially gain access to all of the other accounts as well.
So stay on guard and stay protected! And should you have any issues, feel free to leave a comment below. For more security advice, learn how to avoid email viruses and install cameras to monitor your home.