passwordAt the beginning of every year, tech companies release a list of information that tends to remain the same. You know what it is — a list of the most commonly used passwords. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, 47 percent of adults have had their personal information exposed to hackers, whether they realize it or not.1 Security records revealed that 17 percent of the 10 million passwords that were created in 2016 were “123456” – which ranked number one on the “Top 25 Most Common Passwords of 2016.”2 What else made the top 25 list? You guessed it: password.

If one of your passwords made the list, don’t feel too bad. Large companies struggle to keep their accounts safe, too. Online security can be a hassle, but Grantham University can help you remain secure online. Here are some major companies and executive leaders who also suffered from cyberthreats recently and four ways you can help keep your online information safe.

The Three Major Information Hacks Revealed in the Past Year

1. Yahoo User Information Hacking: In September 2016, Yahoo announced that 500 million user accounts were hacked in 2014. They later revealed that an additional one billion accounts had been compromised just one year earlier. The security breach involved password and personal information such as names, telephone numbers, dates of birth and security questions that could be used to reset user login information. These attacks are the largest ever security breaches of Yahoo’s network.3

2. U.S. National Park Twitter Account: In January 2017, controversial tweets and retweets were posted from the U.S. National Park Twitter account. This was uncommon for the account’s previously controversy-free Twitter track record. Later, the U.S. National Park made a public apology and explained that a former employee still had their Twitter account’s login information and was using the account to tweet and retweet the controversial posts.4 This incident demonstrates the importance of being careful with whom we share our login details.

3. President Donald Trump’s Twitter: Upon initially taking over the @POTUS Twitter account reserved for the presiding president of the United States, President Donald Trump encountered a security issue exposed by a computer hacker who goes by the name of “WauchulaGhost.” By using an older Galaxy S3, the security features on Trump’s Twitter account and phone were not completely secure. This meant that even amateur hackers could have broken into his account and retrieved personal data and password information. Luckily, this hacker was kind enough to inform the White House of the security risk. Trump has since upgraded to a more secure device.5

4 Ways to Keep Your Account Information Safe

If security breaches can happen to the president of the United States, it can certainly happen to us, too. Passwords are a great digital security feature, but they must be strong to be effective. As the frequency and size of data breaches increase, we must take the necessary steps to ensure our information is safe. Here are four tips to keep your accounts secure:

1. Use different login information for each account: Using a “one-size-fits-all” approach to account security is not the most reliable way to go; if a hacker unlocks the code to one account, then they now have access to all your accounts. Remembering all of your user login information can be difficult, so use a tool like LastPass to help you keep track of them all.

2. Make your login information difficult to guess: Digital Guardian suggests using “passphrases” instead of a password because passphrases are longer and more difficult to guess, which decreases the likelihood of your user information being leaked. 6 Couple your passphrase with varied symbols, numbers and uppercase letters for the most effective account security.

3. Enable two-step security features: Many websites offer an option for you to approve login requests or verify whenever changes are made to your account. Enabling these features will send you a text, email or other notification any time someone tries to log in to your account or reset your account information. In some cases, it also requires that the individual logging in verify personal information in addition to your password.5 Using these tools gives your accounts multi-layer security to ensure your information is safe.

4. Turn off your computer when you’re not using it: Keeping your internet running and computer on when you are not using it gives hackers a 24/7 opportunity to install malware onto your hard drive that could compromise your personal data.6 Close out of the internet and shut down your computer when you’re not using it to prevent this from happening.

Fight Password Hacking and Cyberthreats With Training from Grantham

Grantham University’s Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security program can train you to fight against cybercrimes, like the three security breaches we discussed here, and teach you how to keep each and every password secure. We are committed to providing quality, affordable and accessible coursework to students. There’s no better time to get your cybersecurity degree with us than right now. Contact us today to take the first step toward your cybersecurity career!

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