What to do if your Yahoo account was hacked, and how to keep your passwords safe

Source: AP
Source: AP

Yahoo announced Friday that it suffered an unprecedented data breach in which 500 million user accounts were hacked. The privacy invasion led to names, emails, passwords, telephone numbers and security answers being stolen in what's been described as the "largest publicly disclosed cyber-breach in history." 

Naturally, if you're one of the half billion affected Yahoo users, you're going to need to take some action. Here's what you should do if your account was hacked:

Change your password: An obvious, but critical piece of advice. You need to change your Yahoo password and you need to do it immediately. Yahoo says it's working with law enforcement and is "notifying potentially affected users" that they should secure their accounts, but don't wait for them to contact you. Use typical tips for strong passwords: numbers, symbols and a mix of upper and lower case letters. 

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Change your security questions: It's not just passwords that have been breached — Yahoo warns that answers to security questions may have been hacked, as well. Redo all of your security questions and answers to stay on the safe side. 

Turn on two-factor authorization: This extra layer of security could be the difference between protected and hacked accounts. The procedure adds an extra step to the log-in process, such as using a pin number in addition to your password or sending a code to your phone to then type into your account. Two-factor authorization, or 2FA, is simple, but will make it significantly harder for hackers to infiltrate your account. Here's a nifty guide on which website services offer 2FA.

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Aric Suber-Jenkins

Aric is a writer covering technology. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Maxim and Brooklyn Magazine. He is based in New York and can be reached at aric@mic.com.

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