The news last week that Yahoo had been breached and a billion or more users information may have fallen into the wrong hands is not good news for the company nor for its customers and it’s hardly a story that inspires faith in companies that horde our electronic digits that open up our electronic world.
It’s not good for Yahoo because it’s in the middle of trying to sell itself to Verizon for $4.8 billion. This latest breach is not the first but the second since the deal was announced. That could do one of two things. If the deal continues, it will no longer approach $4.8 billion or Verizon could just decide to walk away.
It’s not good for Yahoo’s customers for reasons other than the breach. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that every company is being electronically attacked everyday. Consumers understand that. What they may not be able to understand is why Yahoo would wait three years to tell its customers that their information was compromised and possibly bought and sold on the dark net since 2013? When Target was hacked in December of 2013 and 40 million of the chain’s customers were impacted, the company was pilloried for waiting three weeks to announce the breach. Yahoo waited three years.
As usual, the consumer has to fend for themselves. A rule of thumb is to always assume, no matter the promises of security, that whatever devices or services you might use, that they will eventually get hacked. In order to protect yourself take these regular steps:
1. Examine your credit and bank card statements and look for charges you don’t recognize. Report any irregularities immediately.
2. Change your passwords often. We know it’s a pain.
3. Don’t use the same username and password for all of your accounts. Again, it’s a pain, but well worth it.
While we can’t list all of the steps needed to protect electronic identity, here there are a couple of easy ones. Don’t use public WiFi to access email or bank accounts. You don’t know who might be snooping, and finally, be very wary of computer centers in hotels. Not only can they be a hacker’s paradise, malware and other nefarious computer viruses lurk behind those keystrokes as well.