May 22, 2014

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What eBay’s Data Breach Means To You

If you’re an eBay user, you’ll want to read this post before making your next bid, because the company issued a statement yesterday asking its millions of users to reset their passwords. eBay issued the warning in response to a data breach that gave cyber thieves access to a server containing encrypted passwords and other information.

The good news is that hackers didn’t access any user financial data (because it was stored on a different server). The bad news is that the encrypted data accessed included other personally identifiable information, such as names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and passwords, all of which if the data is unencrypted, identity thieves could use to create synthetic identities and launch phishing attacks.

Threat Of Cyber Attacks Persists

The second bit of good news is that eBay reports there have not been any reported cases of crimes being committed with the stolen data. We hope the fallout is minimal, however, consequences resulting from cyber attacks are clear and present, as seen in the aftermath of the massive data breach that compromised more than 110 million Target customers. In Target’s case, the cyber attack resulted in the  resignation of Target’s Chairman and CEO and in 140 lawsuits being filed against the company.

Tips To Change Your Password

Following are some password pointers to keep in mind in resetting your passwords moving forward:

  • Avoid using the same password across all your accounts.
  • When creating a password, don’t use personal descriptor words that someone could easily guess, e.g. your pet’s name, favorite hobby, etc.
  • Make up a a long and/or nonsense phrase (you can remember) and replace letters within it with numbers, a mix of upper and lower case letters, and other characters.
  • Change your passwords regularly, whether that’s quarterly, or monthly, come up with a schedule that works for you; Adding a recurring reminder to your iPhone or calendar would help.
  • Rethink the use of apps that store passwords, as apps get hacked, too.
  • Don’t check the little box that pops up when you login to a website that asks if you want the screen to remember your password, because bad things happen when laptops get stolen.
  • Consider using a free online password generator you trust if you have trouble coming up with your own.

This data breach is, yet, another example of how vulnerable our personal information is in the hands of third-parties. Control what you can control by staying on top of your personal information.


Ezzy Languzzi

Ezzy is a working mother and educator. She writes from the perspective of a parent seeking to strike a balance between all that technology has to offer and its privacy implications. Ezzy lives in Boston with her husband, son, two dogs, and two chickens.

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