It may be one of the largest cyber-security breaches ever.
Yahoo says hackers stole data associated with at least half a billion of its user accounts. That means your e-mail addresses, online passwords and personal information might not be safe.
The company believes someone acting on behalf of a foreign government is behind it. Now there are real security concerns for all those Yahoo accounts.
Kathy Middleton works for LegalShield, a company that helps people deal with and protect against identity theft. She says the effects of the yahoo hack are already being felt in the Quad Cities.
“I have a member who called me a couple months ago because he had gotten a notification through our service that his email had been discovered in a black web marketing website,” said Middleton.
Some of the information stolen from Yahoo may include names, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, passwords, and security questions and answers. Middleton says even if only your most basic information is exposed, you could still be at risk for fraud or identity theft.
“The username for a lot of accounts that we use is our email address. If somebody has to, they know that ‘Ooh she banks here, she has her credit card, she has her utilities.’ All you have to do is go to that account, put the email address in, and say forgot password. Now you have access into somebody else’s accounts,” said Middleton.
To protect yourself, area tech experts say you should change your passwords and security questions right away. If you use the same or similar password and security questions on other accounts.. you should go and change those, too.
Middleton also recommends adding two-step authentication to your accounts; that way, any time someone tries to log onto your account from a new computer, a security code gets sent to your phone.
“Make sure you’ve got good security software on your computers. And be aware that Yahoo is not going to call you and offer you some kind of service over the phone to protect yourself. There will be people who will jump on that bandwagon, also. That is fraud,” said Middleton.
Another tip: Make sure to log out of your online accounts when you’re done with them, instead of just closing the window. Many websites still keep you logged in, even after you’ve clicked out of the page… Leaving your information open to hackers.
For more info on the Yahoo hack, click here and here.
For more info on how to keep yourself safe, click here.