Details from this week’s federal indictment of Russian hackers charged with compromising hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts reveal that many people are still not taking routine precautions to safeguard their email accounts — and hackers are exploiting that.
As CBS News and the Associated Press reports, the Russian hackers “didn’t have to work very hard to break into people’s email accounts, even those belonging to government officials or powerful executives.”
That said, here’s a look at a few simple ways to help safeguard your email account from hackers:
Avoid the obvious
Skip the sequences like 1-2-3-4 or your birth date. Definitely don’t use your real name.
Create longer passwords and a different one for each website/account
Longer passwords give you more room for combinations of numbers and letters. That’s a good thing. Use a mix of upper and lower case plus numbers or symbols whenever possible – it’ll be much harder to crack.
Make a master list
To remember all those new passwords, make a Master List. There are a number of apps available to help you do this but the 10-dollar, 1Password app for iPhones and Androids is highly recommended. The app stores passwords, credit card numbers, passport information and even generates complicated passwords for you. The 1Password app also boasts military-grade encryption.
The next line of defense is two-factor or multifactor authentication, which asks users to enter a second form of identification, such as a code texted to their phone, when they log in. It’s now commonplace for many email and social media accounts. That way, even if hackers manage to get your password they still need your phone with the texted code.
According to the indictment, the Russian hackers searched email accounts for keywords like “passwords” to find people’s passwords for other accounts. They also searched for “credit card” ‘’visa,” among other terms. So think twice before you use common key words that can serve as a road map to sensitive information for hackers.