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Identity theft experts will tell you that criminals just need a couple of data points about you to steal your identity and your money.
“None of us can really keep track of it, I have no idea how many different places I have put my information in online,” web security consultant Troy Hunt said.
Hunt said your information is often exposed in data breaches of companies or agencies where you have done business. He characterizes the attacks as pervasive and non-stop.
“You really can’t do a lot to stop yourself from being in data breaches,” Hunt said.
Hunt has developed a website that combines information from data breaches from across the globe. It’s called haveibeenpwned.com.
‘Pwned’ comes from the gaming culture where one player dominated another. In this case, hackers might be dominating your personal information.
On the site, you can search by your email to see if it is exposed in a breach.
“So when information gets hacked out of a company, often our personal information, it often gets spread across the internet, exchanged between people, sold between people, when it starts circulating people often send it to me,” Hunt said.
Hunt said doing a search can give you a sense of how far you’ve been exposed. It’s still a good idea to change passwords regularly. Services you’ve never had interactions with could show up.
This could be because one service acquired another or shared data. Hunt said whether you find information on the site or not you should protect yourself from these breaches.
He said to avoid using easy-to-remember passwords or the same password for all your platforms.
Using a password manager, an online way to securely store those hard-to-remember passwords can make using different passwords easier.
Also, experts suggest trying to use multifactor authentication.
“Maybe one other practical piece of advice is just thinking about your own itemization. How much information do you really want to give online organizations?” Hunt said.