CLEVELAND - Fifty million LivingSocial customers had to change their passwords after their account information was potentially compromised. Thieves will likely use the stolen information to hack email, Facebook, and bank accounts. knowing users will use the same password on multiple accounts. Technology is making it easier than ever to compromise accounts, but technology is also making it easier than ever to create passwords that are hack-proof.
When Tristan Sanchez logged into his email account one morning, he saw a slew of emails that bounced back. He wasn't sure what happened overnight until a friend clued him into the problem.
"A coworker of mine sent me a letter saying I was spamming," Sanchez explained.
Spammers are hitting email and Facebook accounts, sending your friends and email contacts strange links that often contain malware.
"I don't know if it was anyone that tampered into my email," Sanchez said.
While Sanchez isn't sure how it happened, security expert Tom Eston said it's a problem facing companies and individuals every day.
Eston is the Manager of SecureState's Profiling and Penetration Team. He said this happens for two possible reasons.
"They went went somewhere on the web that infected them or their password is weak and easily guessable," Eston explained who added it's easy to make your password more difficult to crack.
"Use a pass phrase. For example, Mary had a little lamb, is a lot more secure than a password with a number one at the end of it," Eston said.
You can also try a password management program like LastPass or KeePass. Some of them are free and even work on mobile devices.
They work like a vault storing all your passwords in one secure location. The program will even create tougher letter and number combinations, and remember them.
"What's nice, you can simply open up the program, and create a randomly created password. There are some programs that will integrate into your web browser so they automatically populate the sites that you go to the most with these passwords so you don't have to remember that," Eston explained.
So how secure is this? Eston said it's secure as long as your initial password to get into the vault is strong.
"That's where I'd say have a long pass phrase for your vault password. Make sure nobody knows that but yourself. Let the password manager take over in terms of managing your passwords for you," Eston explained.
Remembering one set of numbers and letters is easier than half a dozen, and will save you the headache Sanchez is now dealing with as he changes all his number and letter codes.