Heads up, geeks and gamers: Bioware is the latest data breach victim

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Mass Effect 3

We hope that this breach doesn’t push back the release date for Mass Effect 3…

It’s a hard life being a gamer nowadays with all these data breaches:  first Epsilon, then Playstation Network, and now Bioware.

The well-loved gaming company broke news of the breach this morning to their registered users, warning that “hackers may have obtained information such as user account names and passwords, email addresses, and birth dates of approximately 18,000 accounts.”

You may not have heard of the Canadian gaming company Bioware, now owned by Electronic Arts, but they’re behind some of the biggest RPGs in gaming history.

Bioware’s about quality, not quantity, as shown by titles like Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter Nights.  They’re renowned for detailed, complex storylines that allow players to choose their own paths throughout the game, tipping their characters towards good or bad (or light side/dark side in the Star Wars universe of Knights of the Old Republic), and they received acclaim–and controversy–for their uncensored depictions of in-game sexuality running the LGBT spectrum.  Due out in March of 2012, Mass Effect 3 was nominated for “most anticipated game” at E3.

Bioware’s large fan base gathers in its online community.

Because their fans are as dedicated as they come (you can count this writer among them), Bioware has a thriving online community.  Unfortunately, 18,000 of these fans lost their account information to hackers.  Read on to learn how you can protect yourself (and no, we don’t mean with biotic powers, lightsabers, or blood magic).

If you reuse usernames and passwords, you are at risk.

Here’s the real problem:  because most of us use the same username and password everywhere, hackers obtaining your Bioware info can now access any accounts where you use the same login info.  Do you use the same login info for online banking?  Twitter?  eBay?  Gmail?  If so, it’s not just your Bioware account you should be worried about:  all of your accounts are at risk.  Luckily, there’s something you can do today to thwart hackers who are trying to access your accounts.

Check to see if your email address was taken

If you want to check whether hackers obtained your email address in the Bioware breach–or any other, for that matter–check out Should I Change My Password.  The site “uses a number of databases that have been released by hackers to the public,” and it doesn’t store any of your login information in its databases.

shouldichangemypassword

You can enter your email at ShouldIChangeMyPassword.com to see if you’re in trouble.

The quick (and free) fix:  create masked email accounts.

A masked email is a unique email address that forwards to your main email inbox.  You can generate them automatically, make as many as you need, and block them anytime you wish, especially if you’re worried about your security.

Let’s go back in time to before the Bioware breach happened to illustrate how a masked email could have protected you.  Let’s say your main email address is Address@Inbox.com but you’re hesitant about using it to sign up for Bioware’s community.  With one click, make an alias email, say Mask@opayq.com, and go ahead and register.  Everything that’s sent to your masked email will always show up in your main inbox.

But what if you hear on the news that Bioware’s site (or any other at which you’re registered) has been hacked?  Simply block your masked email.  And because you’re not using that unique address anywhere else, all of your other accounts are safe.  It’s that easy.

Ready to protect yourself?

Abine’s MaskMe, a browser add-on, lets you create masked email accounts and automatically forwards them to your inbox.  And MaskMe lets you control your security in other ways, too:  keep track of your online accounts and passwords; generate random, encrypted passwords to make sure your accounts stay safe; block ad networks from tracking your behavior online; log into sites with one; and automatically fill online forms.

Try MaskMe today and be ready for the next big data breach, whenever it may happen.

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