A Russian Crime ring has gathered what may be the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, according to the New York Times. The data—more than 4.5 billion records in all—includes 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.
Such personal credentials can be used for identity theft. If you’re like many people, the password you use on one site may be the same password you use on many sites, so a breach like this can expose many of your accounts, including those that put you at financial risk — think bank and brokerage accounts.
The breach is huge and only the latest in a series. It’s important to protect yourself:
• Don't panic but assume the worst—that your personal information is among the stolen records.
• Change the passwords on your most important accounts, including online banking, credit card, brokerage, medical and other accounts just to be on the safe side.
• Use strong passwords. LifeLock Educational Advisor Jean Chatzky offers tips here.
• Do not use the same password on multiple sites.
• Always monitor your credit card and bank statements for fraudulent charges.