First things first, what does ‘being pwned’ even mean?
The word ‘pwned’ derives from the verb ‘to be owned’. According to the urban dictionary, this term originated from the online game Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled the word ‘owned’. So initially, people used the term in the online gaming field to express that a player is beaten or ‘owned’ by an opponent.
Therefore, to take it to online hacker terms, being pwned means that someone has acquired access to your personal information.
Is my account at risk of being pwned?
Well, if you are guilty of using the same email addresses and passwords to log into several accounts, then your chances of being pwned are high. The problem comes when hackers find a way to create data breaches and gain access to these usernames and emails used to sign in to certain sites.
From 2017 to 2019, security gaps at Desjardins led to a major data leak that exposed the personal data of more than 9 million Canadians. It was the most massive ever data breach in the history of the Canadian financial-services sector. The leak included sensitive information like birthdays, social security numbers, telephone numbers and residential addresses.
So, what may seem like a rare and unlikely event, is by no means isolated. In January 2021, a major data leak affected the lead generation firm Astoria Company LLC. It exposed over 11M unique email addresses.
The company stored an extensive amount of personal information, including names, physical and IP addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth. Some records even contained social security numbers, driver’s license details, personal financial information, and health-related data, depending on where the information was sourced from.
But what’s so wrong about being pwned?
At this point you may think ok, so my email gets leaked in a data breach, but what’s so bad about it? All my colleagues have it anyway.
Well, the issue here is that once your email is out there in the public, it just makes things a lot easier for hackers to break into any account associated with that email address. They just need to figure out the password and “oh snap,” they now have access to it.
And what comes after a hacker gets access to your account? Identity theft or spoofing (where they pretend to be you) as well as all the sensitive information linked to your email. If your email account ends up in the wrong hands, criminals can use your information to purchase items in your name. They can as well use it to spread malware or as a part of a botnet.
How to protect your account from being pwned?
Now that you know the implications of being pwned, here are a few simple tips to keep your account safe:
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
If a hacker can guess your password, then don’t make it easier for them to break into the rest of your accounts. Yes, it sounds tedious, but it is the best way to save yourself from data theft. So if you want to avoid being hacked, make sure to have a different password for each of your accounts.
Create a strong password
We suggest creating a strong password that is at least sixteen characters long. Password length reduces chance of a compromise. It is better to have a long password that you change infrequently over a short password you change often.
Monitor your accounts for breach using password checker. Also, make use of a password manager to help identify if the current password has seen a breach.
Manage your passwords
Think of a secure place where you can keep all these passwords, like a password manager, so that if you forget them, you have easy access, but hackers don’t. Google Password Manager is a great and free option that will get the job done.
Enable 2-factor authentication
Enabling 2-factor authentication makes the process of changing your password more secure. Many companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook offer this option. You can go to your account security settings and make sure it is enabled.
That’s it! We hope you have a safe surfing. Don’t hesitate to go to our website footer and locate our email breach checker to verify the security of your email address.
Personal information can be hacked into and pwned. This means your personal details can be revealed and used for nefarious reasons. It is important for you to be vigilant and take steps to reinforce the security of your accounts.
Following easy steps such as having different passwords for each of your accounts, using strong and long passwords, saving these in a password manager and implementing 2-factor authentication can save you to be a victim of hackers and any cybercriminal.
And you, are your accounts secure?