Big news hit the online world over the weekend, over 50 million Living Social subscribers were notified of a major cyber-attack which led to the unauthorized access to data on their servers, including names, e-mail addresses, date of birth for some users, and encrypted passwords (hashed and salted).
Living Social is a major daily deal site where people can seek out discount deals on things from a day at the spa to dinner for two. Consumers see these sites as safe but all it takes is something as harmless as a password in the hands of the wrong person to lead to so much destruction.
Sure, consumers may not have had their credit card information retrieved but the damage may be sneaky and hard to detect.
I was one of those 50 million that received an e-mail notifying me of the attack. You can imagine the first question on my mind “Is my account safe”? The database that was hacked included e-mail addresses and passwords, but Living Social insists that the passwords were encrypted. Bottom line, a consumer with a strong password is in the clear.
Could there be trends in the world of cyber attacks? Absolutely! We as consumers continuously join popular sites and it’s difficult to keep up with an array of varying passwords, so the simplest thing for us to do is to use the same password over and over again. But, taking the simple route can be the most harmful.
I always think it could never happen to me and then I read the headlines about Living Social (and receive the dreaded “we’ve been hacked” e-mail). Many of us want someone else to take measures to protect our data, but the best possible defender out there is YOU. Take time to learn password security best practices to help prevent your data getting accessed. It’s easy to take security lightly, hoping someone out there has put an encryption on our password, but it’s our job as consumers to look into how protected our data is.
Think about how much your personal data means to you, and then think about what would happen if the database of an entire company was comprised. I know the question is what can one person do? Any time there is physical crime, local police have to think like the criminal, get into their minds, and crack the case. You have to be your own personal Guardian of the Galaxy and learn how to “crack the hack.” Being proactive instead of reactive is the best source of power behind defending the hacker beast.