Kaspersky urges internet users to be vigilant and secure their online accounts

News of data breaches can spread chills to anyone who has an online presence. The news last week of Collection #1 where more than 700 million unique email addresses and 1.1 billion unique log-in passwords were leaked brings the question of what can users do if they get affected by these data breaches.

In the Philippines, remittance center Cebuana Lhuillier reported that about 900,000 of their customers were affected in a data breach that involved its email server used for marketing purposes.

According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs media release, criminal hackers collect the leaked information, creating databases with logins, and passwords. “Some of them try to add information from every leak to these databases, and that effort results in the creation of gigantic databases such as what called Collection #1.”

The security firm noted that in Collection #1, it does not seem to include logins and passwords from well-known leaks such as LinkedIn’s in 2012 and both Yahoo breaches.

“This massive collection of data harvested through data breaches had been built up over a long period of time, so some of the account details are likely to be outdated now. However, it is no secret that despite growing awareness of the danger, people stick to the same passwords and even re-use them on multiple websites,” says Sergey Lozhkin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

“What’s more, this collection can be easily be turned into a single list of emails and passwords and then all that attackers need to do is to write a relatively simple software program to check if the passwords are working. The consequences of account access can range from very productive phishing, as criminals can automatically send malicious emails to a victim’s list of contacts, to targeted attacks designed to steal victims’ entire digital identity or money or to compromise their social media network data,” he adds.

Experts at Kaspersky Lab said numerous leaks have been appearing over the past few years and a lot more are expected to happen in the future.

Lozhkin strongly recommends everyone who uses email credential for online activities to take the following steps as soon as possible:

1. Use strong passwords for your most important or sensitive accounts (such as internet banking, online payment or social media networks) and change them regularly.

2. Use long and unique passwords for each and every account. This way, if a service is breached, you’ll need to change just one password.

3. Check if your email account has been exposed online by going to Type-in the e-mail address that your accounts are associated with and you will find out if that address was included in any of the leaked databases that is aware of.

4. Enable two-factor authentication wherever it is possible. It will not allow hackers into your account even if they managed to obtain your login and password.

5. Use security solutions such as Kaspersky Security Cloud that can warn you about recent breaches.

6. Consider switching to a password manager such as Kaspersky Password Manager that can help create many unique and strong passwords with no need to memorize them. Password managers can also help change the passwords faster whenever you need it.

While many consumers liked to think that organizations must protect these data that they collect with the utmost degree, users can also do their part in securing their online accounts. Hacking and data breaches will become the new normal because of the massive data in the cloud that the connected world produces.