After Yahoo data hack, here are 15 tips to protect yourself

 After Yahoo data hack, here are 15 tips to protect yourself

Finding someone whom a data breach has never hit is getting more difficult. Customers of stores and restaurants. Government workers. Workers whose companies’ records have been stolen . . . People with health insurance. Now, consumers who’ve done business with major email and Internet companies.

Personal information involving 500 million Yahoo accounts, including accounts with Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Fantasy Sports, was stolen in 2014, and we’re just now learning about it. Yahoo’s announcement Thursday also said the theft may have included 113 million Flickr accounts.

The stolen information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and in many cases, security questions and the answers people gave, Yahoo said.


So here are steps you should consider taking ASAP:

1. Assume that anything in your Yahoo email account could be in the hands of bad guys, including passwords to other websites and accounts.

2. Make sure all your passwords on all your accounts — especially on any other email account or financial account — are solid and are not the same ones you used on any of your Yahoo accounts.

3. If you used the same “secret questions” on your Yahoo account and any other account, start changing them. What is your favorite movie of all time? Pet’s name? What is the middle name of your youngest sibling? Change them all.

And on that note, don’t use secret questions other people know the answers to. There are lots of people who know your high school mascot. It’s probably easy to figure out from your Facebook page or anyone you knew in high school. Don’t use the name of the street you lived on as a child. Or your pet’s name. Many people see the name of your dog, cat, or guinea pig.


4. Further, when you’re asked by a bank, credit card company, or any entity to provide something like your mother’s maiden name, don’t provide the true answer. Your mother’s maiden name is easy to find. When asked for my mother’s maiden name, I gave them a fabricated last name. The trick is you have to remember it since it’s not true.

5. Watch out for suspicious emails or phone calls that trick you into disclosing personal information based on already having some information about you that may have been extracted from your Yahoo account.

With a data breach of this scale, many of us will receive emails and calls that claim to be from Yahoo asking us to click on links, fill out forms, or provide even more personal information.

If anyone contacts you by email or phone and says he’s from Yahoo or law enforcement and is calling about this breach, hang up. If you don’t hang up for some reason, do not provide any information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account information, etc.

6. Remember that stores, banks, universities, and investigators will never contact you out of the sky blue and ask for personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc. Never. Ever. And they’ll never contact you and ask you to change your password by clicking on an unknown link. Don’t click on links or reply with any information. Never. Ever Web Job Posting.

7. This same warning applies to anyone who calls you and claims to be from Microsoft or Apple support and says you have a problem with your computer and the caller needs access to your computer to fix it. Just don’t. Ever. Just hang up without saying bye.

8. Be more cautious about anything you post on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. You can provide thieves with a lot of information without meaning to. This is especially troubling if you post the name of your best friend and photos of your dog online and then use that information to answer security questions for bank accounts.

And remember that even if your social media accounts are accessible only to friends or family, the information is still on some company’s database and can be accessed or sold.

Dennis Bailey

Professional beer geek. Alcohol ninja. Social media scholar. Award-winning twitter fanatic. Writer. Basketball fan, mother of 2, audiophile, Saul Bass fan and communicator, collector, connector, creator. Producing at the sweet spot between simplicity and purpose to create strong, lasting and remarkable design. I'm a designer and this is my work.