Reports surfaced today that a Russian hacker downloaded 6.46 million LinkedIn users’ passwords. Even though the passwords were encrypted, hackers have already cracked more than 300,000 of them and are enlisting others to help decrypt the rest. The weakest passwords are the easiest to crack, but hackers can figure out even stronger passwords with enough time and effort.
You’re already at risk if you’re a LinkedIn user, but your risk is significantly higher if you’ve reused your LinkedIn email and password combination on other accounts and sites. Here are 4 tips to help protect your accounts from being compromised.
1. CHANGE YOUR LINKEDIN PASSWORD
If you only do one thing, this should be it. Follow our simple steps below to change your LinkedIn password:
Step 1: Log into your LinkedIn account.
Step 2: On the top right of your screen, you’ll see your name and a drop-down arrow. Click your name to open that menu, then select “Settings.” You may be prompted to re-enter your email and password.
Step 4: A “Change your password” box will open. You’ll be prompted to enter your old password once and your new password twice. When you’re finished, click the blue “Change password” button.
Password strength is combination of length, content, and change frequency. In general, longer passwords with a wider variety of capitalization, letters, numbers, and symbols are the most secure, and the more often you change them, the better. The harder it is for others to guess, the safer it is. A few examples of notoriously common (and therefore bad) passwords:
- your first or last name
3. USE THIS SIMPLE TIP TO CREATE STRONG, UNIQUE PASSWORDS YOU CAN ALWAYS REMEMBER
Here’s a pro-tip for remembering all your login information. You’ll create a strong base password that you know you’ll remember, then apply a rule to it that will make slight variations of that password for each site where you register. The result: a unique password for all your accounts. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say your base password is AbinePrivacyRocks!@#! You’ll then make a rule that you’ll apply consistently whenever you make a password. One example of a rule: you’ll take the first letter of the site name and add it to the end of your base password. If you’re signing up for Facebook, for example, you’d add the “F” from Facebook and end up with AbinePrivacyRocks!@#!F.
As long as you remember your base password and the fact that you add the new letter at the end, you’ll be able to remember all your passwords on every site you use. Just be sure to never tell anyone either your base password or your rule.
4. IF YOU’VE REUSED YOUR LINKEDIN LOGIN INFO ON OTHER SITES, CHANGE THEM
A 2003 survey found that 65% of us use the same password for different applications or services. We’re only human; we can’t keep hundreds of different username and password combinations in our heads at all times. But in our effort to try to keep things simple, we expose ourselves to a great deal of risk. Think about it: a spammer who discovers your password on, say, Facebook, can then access all the other sites where you use it: PayPal, your online banking site, your phone service, your email, and everywhere else.
We recommend using your password creation rule, described above, to make new passwords on all your accounts. Start with the most important ones (like email, online banking, shopping, and social networks), and move on from there.
We hope you found these tips helpful. And remember: you can use them for any password breach, not just LinkedIn’s. Good luck, and stay private!