Upward of 200 million emails hacked

hacker at work with graphic user interface around

On Wednesday this week, a Wisconsin security firm called Hold Security reported they had obtained a cache of information from Russian hackers regarding emails and passwords. The firm originally uncovered the hacker bragging in online forums about the large amount of data he was going to sell, claiming to have over 1 billion email addresses and passwords. Holden Security refuses to pay for stolen data, but after promising to give the young Russian hacker favourable reviews and likes on social media, the information was handed over.

Email providers themselves had not been hacked, but rather the less secure sites where both an email and password are used for accounts. People who use the same password for all their accounts are most vulnerable in this situation, as their email and private details can be obtained through the passwords on less valuable sites.

The accounts targeted range from Yahoo, Hotmail and G-Mail as well as Russia’s largest email server, Mail.ru. After eliminating duplicates, the number went from 1.7 billion as claimed by the hacker down to 272.3 million, which is still an incredibly scary number, but less than originally expected.

These sorts of attacks are ultimately unavoidable in our digital age, but keeping passwords complex and changing them often, as well as using different passwords across your accounts is the ideal way to keep your information safe. If you struggle to remember all your passwords, keeping them written down on paper in a private area is the best way to keep everything safe.

Ruth is an aspiring writer and coffee enthusiast who keeps a keen eye on the comings and goings of Australia.