Why the T-Mobile hack reminds us to immediately secure our personal information

In August, hackers compromised personal data, including names, addresses, license and Social Security numbers, of more than 50 million current, prospective and former T-Mobile customers. 

Not long after, sensitive data was up for sale on the dark web, where criminals could open credit cards or file fraudulent tax returns.

While the company claims no passwords or accounts were stolen, this massive breach reminds us why it’s so important to secure our online accounts and protect our personal information — because the next big hack could be around the corner. In this week’s tip, we’ll show you a few important ways to immediately safeguard your private information.

First things first: Here at CREDO, protecting your privacy is a core value of our company, and we have a long record of fighting for our customers’ privacy. Your personal data isn’t for sale, and we work to protect your data from government intrusion. 

But your personal data is at risk in other ways. While you can’t prevent hackers from compromising the data of a Big Tech company or financial firm — where your personal information might be stored — you can take some steps to make it very hard for criminals to steal your identity, use your information for illicit activity, or gain access to your accounts. 

Two of the best steps you can take right now to protect your personal information is by using a password manager and turning on two-factor authentication for your most sensitive accounts. Here’s how to get started.

Stop reusing passwords & start using a password manager

If you’re reusing your passwords, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, more than 50 percent of all people reuse or modify similar passwords across their internet accounts — and this is a big problem. 

Once hackers have your password from a data breach — even if it’s a very complex one — they could access other accounts that use the same or similar password. That’s why it’s so important to utilize a password manager to create strong and unique passwords for each site you use.

Password managers help you create long, complex passwords that you’ll never have to remember, then encrypt and store them in a digital vault that only you (or a loved one) can access. When you visit the login page for a site, the password manager automatically fills in your credentials from your vault.

Some popular password managers are LastPass, 1Password, Keeper, BitWarden and Dashlane. They all charge a monthly fee for premium accounts, but we think the protection they provide is worth it.

To learn more and to get started using a password manager to secure your accounts, check out our previous tip, “Here’s why you need to start using a password manager — and how you can get started.

Start using two-factor authentication right now

One of the best ways to secure your most important accounts is by turning on two-factor authentication. It’s one extra, yet quick and easy step to ensure your accounts remain a little bit safer amidst the skyrocketing number of hacking attempts.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a way of accessing your accounts using two separate steps to verify your identity, usually with a username and password combination, along with a second step that requires a separate identifier, like your phone, an app, a physical key, or a fingerprint.

Most common online services, like Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, as well as most financial institutions, have the option to turn on two-factor authentication. If your bank and other online services offer 2FA, you should strongly consider turning it on, especially as data breaches become more common — because if a hacker has compromised your password, it is unlikely they will have compromised your second factor method.

To learn how to use 2FA and find instructions on how to turn it on for popular services, please read our previous tip, “Start using two-factor authentication right now to protect yourself from hackers.