Consumer Alert: Study shows 6 in 10 emails are compromised. But protecting yourself is easy. Here’s how. | WHEC.com

Consumer Alert: Study shows 6 in 10 emails are compromised. But protecting yourself is easy. Here’s how.

Deanna Dewberry
Created: April 22, 2021 05:00 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Today's consumer alert takes a look at your breached email account. That's right. I'm making the assumption that your email has been compromised because a new study of 171,000 email accounts found that six in 10 were involved in a data breach. So there's a 60% chance I'm right to assume your email is among those being shared by cyber thieves on the dark web.

BeenVerified, a public data search site, did the study. So I chatted with Richard Gargan, the company’s Digital PR Manager.

Richard Gargan: "This is affecting the majority of Americans and the majority of Americans are unaware that their email was involved in a data breach."

Deanna Dewberry: "And that's incredibly significant because our email is the window into so many financial transactions."

Gargan: "That's right. In New York, the average New Yorker was involved in an average of 5 and a half data breaches. And so that just shows you that we think New Yorkers are probably just using more online services than in other states."

In fact, New York ranks sixth in the country for the states with the most data breaches. The District of Columbia was number one followed by Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware. New York is number six. Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas and Florida round out the top 10. The study also found that the older the email address, the more likely it is that it's been compromised.  

Gargan: "Change your password because if you've had an email address for over 10 years and you're using that same password for all of your accounts online, then the likelihood that that password is in the public and available for that hacker to use."

Dewberry: "Are there password managers that you all recommend?"

Gargan: "My favorite password manager is 1password. Many are available. What they do is encrypt all your passwords and there is essentially a password master key where you have one password that opens everything."

That one password that works as your master key needs to be really complex, but you only have to remember on password, and you don't even have to do that with a smartphone. It remembers the password for you, and your face or finger unlocks it. If your password manager is hacked, the data is useless because it’s encrypted and you're the only one with the master key.

Members of BeenVerified can search to find out whether their email has been compromised in a publically known data breach. You can also search at HaveIbeenpwned.com.

You can search for free. The website not only tells you whether your email has been compromised in a data hack, but it will also tell you the number of times it’s been breached. The word pwned, (pronounced poned) is taken from video game culture. It means to control or conquer someone. In internet-speak, it means "Have I been breached?" At its site with a similar name, Pwnedpasswords, you can check to see if your password has been breached as well. If it has, you need to change your email password immediately.

Experts stress we need to create unique passwords for each of your accounts. Here's how you can do that easily. Go to 1password.com. It will generate unique passwords and store them for you.

You should also use two-factor authentication whenever possible. That way, even if thieves know your password, they still can’t access your account.

And that's your consumer alert.


Copyright 2021 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company