During December last year, there was an announcement by Yahoo that there was a huge data breach which was so big and worrying for so many Yahoo users considering the number of people affected by the breach and the sensitive nature of the information that was leaked.Some say that it was a disaster – hacked emails and passwords lead to financial and psychological issues.
So, if you have not heard of that breach by now, here is what you should know.
Over 1 Billion Users Affected
As reported by Yahoo, the hackers stole information of over 1 billion account holders in August 2013. Yes, I know, I was also surprised to learn that it actually happened in 2013 and not in 2016 when Yahoo was reporting it.
Leakage of Sensitive Information
Yahoo was quoted saying, “The stolen user account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.” That was the magnitude of the breach.
Luckily, the breach did not get access to users’ credit card number or bank accounts but seeing that they acquired the user’s date of birth, telephone numbers, and email addresses, the bare minimum needed to be used in identity theft and phishing scams.
Top of the list on the leakage was the fact that the hackers may have accessed information that was related to national security at risk. They might have exposed over 150, 000 United States of America government and military officials which included the FBI, the CIA, White House officials and many others who work with very sensitive information on a daily basis.
These officials found themselves in this dilemma because they gave their work email as backup emails in Yahoo in case a lockout ever happened.
When a hack of such magnitude happens, the company hacked is required to reach out to its users to warm them and that is exactly what Yahoo has been doing.
“We are notifying potentially affected users and posting additional information on our website. Additionally, we are taking steps to secure users’ accounts, including requiring users to change their passwords. Yahoo has also invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers to that they cannot be used to access an account,” Yahoo was quoted saying on the measures they are taking to salvage the whole thing.
It is advised not to assume an alert like this one, does not matter whether you use it all the time or not. If requested to change the password, the security questions or any other information pertaining to your Yahoo account, you should comply.
Actively Protect Yourself from Scammer
If you have been hacked, it is advisable to be on guard and ever vigilant to protect your accounts. If a message is sent to you, it will not ask you to click on a link or to download an attachment. Furthermore, your financial institution should not ask you to give your PINs, account numbers, passwords and other information via the email. If so, just know that you have been sent a shady email and you should delete it.
The “actively protecting” yourself part comes in whereby you will be required to create secure passwords and it will need you to regularly change those passwords. Always call and confirm with the company if you suspect an email or a call that has been directed to you.
One cannot stress enough the fact that you are NOT to give your personal information to strangers more so via emails.
Below are some measures you can take to at least try and protect yourself.
Change Your Passwords
For you to protect yourself, you should change your passwords to all your accounts, not only Yahoo’s, and you should do it now. When doing so, you should avoid the loopholes of using commonly used passwords like 12345, 0000, QWERTY and other stupid and very easy to hack passwords.
Make sure that your password is strong by endeavoring to combine letters, numbers, characters (if allowed) and the caps.
The changing of passwords should happen to all your accounts. And you will have to review the security questions in Yahoo as the other ones have been compromised.
Make Use of Two Factor Authentication
If you do not have the two-factor authentication feature, there is a high possibility that anyone who has your password can have access to your account. Using one password for multiple sites will make it even easier for cyber criminals to get access to most of your accounts.
Enable your two-factor authentication and you will have a little bit of security while logging into Yahoo and other sites.
Treat Strange Emails with Caution
If you receive a strange email, email that you good and well know you do not have any connection to, you need to be extra careful with them. This is whereby phishing scams have their prime time to use that opportunity to get some answers for questions left blank.
And do not be surprised, those emails are getting more sophisticated. They will lure you to click on links, download attachments or ask you to give away personal information.
Yahoo has been working day and night to rectify the damage done, both to its users and to its image. A company that has been facing a lot of strife, Yahoo will need to recuperate from such a blow and hopefully come up with something that will impress its users.
Until that time, protect your personal information vigorously and if you see any email prompting you to give your information, delete it immediately.