If you use Gmail, Yahoo mail, Microsoft’s Hotmail, or Mail.ru, it may be time to change your password. According to a report by Reuters, data experts claim that over 270 million email accounts have been compromised, with their username and passwords being traded around online.
Breaking down the distribution of accounts, Yahoo Mail credentials accounted for 40 million, or 15 percent; Hotmail accounted for 33 million, or 12 percent; and Gmail accounted for 24 million, or 9 percent. The rest of the affected accounts were tied to Mail.ru, which is Russia’s most popular email service.
According to Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security, this information was discovered after a Russian hacker was “bragging in an online forum that he had collected and was ready to give away a far larger number of stolen credentials that ended up totalling 1.17 billion records.” Further investigation showed that many of the accounts were duplicates, shrinking the number from 1.17 billion down to 272.3 million compromised accounts.
The report also states that the hacks began about 10 days ago, so there’s no sure-fire way to know how much information was stolen nor did they disclose how they were able to get them, but it would be a safe bet to get your password changed immediately to avoid any further complications.
With this hack, now might be the best time to check out some password managers, because using your cat’s name or your favorite sports team isn’t exactly the most secure password in the world. Luckily there are a good deal of quality password management applications on the Play Store. You can also protect your account other ways, such as setting up two-factor authentication. Additionally, Google has a way to check the security of your Gmail account through its Security Checkup, which can be found in the “My Account” section of your Google account.
Once logged into “My Account” you will be able to easily perform a checkup on your account to identify any weak points with your password or any suspicious activity within your account. The checklist takes you through a series of prompts that will help you identify anything looks out of the ordinary and help rectify any situations, in addition to reporting the findings to Google.
It’s entirely possible that you were not affected, but when situations like this arise it’s better to be more safe than sorry and change your login information for your various email accounts that may have been affected by the data breach.