It seems like every month there is a big story on the news of a data leak from a major company. Stories of passwords being leaked by online stores and services are becoming more frequent and access to the information is easier to come by.
Over the past few years, some Companies that have had user accounts stolen and posted publically are:
There is a great website which shows data breaches over the past few years along with their magnitude, it’s quite scary though. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/worlds-biggest-data-breaches-hacks/
The top and bottom of it though, is that with all this going on there is a high chance one of your passwords is already online next to your name, email address and/or username right next to it. So if eBay gets hacked and you use the same password for your online emails, someone can just jump on your emails and start taking control of your other online accounts.
To combat this you should use a different password for every single account and never repeat a password. This can be achieved quite simply by using a password manager such as LastPass or OnePassword. They are inexpensive and have mobile phone apps, browser plugins and usually have a program you install on your PC or Mac too.
The idea is you have one password you remember, to open your password manager. Then you can have the manager generate random, secure passwords for you. It’s important to have a secure password for the password manager and never repeat this anywhere else or the system becomes insecure again.
Working in this way and ensuring all passwords you use for accounts are unique means that should a company become compromised and customer details are leaked, damage is only limited to that particular service and you can just change your password on that service.
To make things even more secure you should ideally also enable Multi-factor authentication in your Password Manager and take advantage of an additional layer of security from an authenticator app on your mobile phone.