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Experian urges Britons to change their online passwords PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 May 2016
Jim Steven, head of data breach services at Experian says: "Cybercrime has become increasingly complex and organised to the extent that an underground industry has emerged trading in information that’s been stolen online. Many of us regularly share lots of personally identifiable information through our online accounts, which in the wrong hands, could be used directly to commit fraud, or sold on to other criminals, often without the victim knowing until after a crime has been committed. 

“While it can be a tedious process, everyone should be using strong, unique passwords for all their online accounts. Our latest research shows that 44% of Britons admit to rarely or never changing their passwords, meaning they’re much more vulnerable to cyber threats. If you think one of your accounts may have been affected this week, immediately change the password on that account, as well as your other accounts, particularly if you use the same password across a number of them. While there’s no ‘one size fits all’ formula, try to come up with your own system to create memorable passwords. This could be using the first letter of each word of a memorable phrase, along with something relevant to the site in question, for example.”

Here is a reminder of some easy-to-follow guidance from Experian to help keep your information safe online:

· Online Passwords: If you fear you may have been affected this week, you should immediately change the password on both the account you think may have been affected, as well as other online accounts, particularly if you use the same password. Create unique passwords for each site you use, using a system personal to you:
1. Passwords should have more than eight characters (ideally 10-12)
2. Avoid using words from the dictionary
3. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters
4. Consider using the first letters of the words in a memorable phrase or song – e.g. ‘It’s been seven hours and 15 days since you took your love away’ could be ‘Ib7h&15dsytyl@’ along with something relating to the website in question that’s easy to remember

· Inactive Accounts: Shut down any online accounts you don’t use. Each account we have contains valuable personally-identifiable information which could be used to commit fraud if it got into the wrong hands.

· Emails: If an email seems suspicious, don’t open it and don’t click on any links within the email. Contact the relevant organisation if you think it could be a phishing email and don’t ever give out personal details over email. A reputable business will never ask for confirmation of details by email.

· Social Websites: Be sensible about the information you share. Don’t add people you don’t know and remember what you might consider to be unimportant information like your birthday, email address, phone number or location could all be misused if seen by a fraudster.

· On the move: Be smart with your smartphone which can contain emails and apps that can be accessed without a password. Regularly clear the cache on your device, and disable auto-fill settings. Remember that public networks and open Wi-Fi hotspots are riskier than private networks, so be conscious of what you access and remember to log out when finished.

· Credit Wise: Fraudsters operate to make money and therefore, one of the first places many people notice that they have been the victim of fraud is by spotting changes to their credit report if credit has been applied for under false pretences. So monitor your credit report and bank statement regularly as it will help you spot any suspicious activity as early as possible to avoid financial loss.

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