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Identity theft is such a common occurrence. Whether it’s hackers breaking into protected systems and stealing your personal information or companies being careless with secure information, hardly a week goes by without news of another breach. Now, one of the most popular online shopping sites, Amazon, is in the news for a leak of customer data.
Buzzfeed reports that an unknown number of Amazon customers had their names and e-mail addresses exposed on a public server for a brief period of time. Amazon hasn’t publicly disclosed how many customers are affected.
For those of us who like to earn the most miles and points on every purchase, it’s common to have funds loaded on our Amazon gift card balance. But someone with your login info can deplete those funds to purchase items for themselves.
It might seem like your Amazon account is safe, but you can never be too careful. You’ll definitely want to watch your e-mail for notifications that you may be affected. And, there are other easy steps you can take to enhance the security of your Amazon accounts (and others as well):
Change Your Password
Obvious, right? But, be honest. When was the last time you changed your Amazon password? It’s easy. Just login to Amazon and navigate to the Your Account page. Look for the “Login & Security” tab at the top of the page. From there, it’s a snap to change your password. Make sure it’s something hard to guess, but not too hard you’ll forget (more on that later).
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Under that same “Login & Security” tab, you’ll find an option for Advanced Security Settings. Amazon will walk you through how to use your mobile phone to setup two-factor authentication.
You’ll need an Authenticator app. There are quite a few. I’m using the Google version right now. Two-factor authentication can be a bit of a pain if you’re in a rush, but it provides a pretty high level of security. If you’re looking for a bit of a quicker path to better security (or you want the belt & suspenders approach of more security beyond two-factor authentication) then you might want to consider….
A Password Manager
One of the best methods to protect yourself is making wickedly strong passwords. Lots of letters, numbers and symbols make it much harder for a hacker to use a brute force attack to steal your identity. But, how do you remember all of those passwords? You don’t want to write them all down. I use 1Password.
There are free password managers out there, where 1Password will cost you a couple bucks a month, or roughly $5/mo to manage your whole family. But, 1Password makes difficult passwords easy. It syncs across all my devices, and I can use FaceID or my fingerprint on my iPhone to open up my vault of passwords. You can also store important documents like passports photos and insurance cards, so you always have them handy. And, you can make a 25-digit long Amazon password filled with letters, numbers and symbols that you’ll never have to remember.
The Bottom Line
Protecting your identity is a daily battle. Amazon isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last major company to have a slip-up with customer data. You can wait until you’re stung by identity theft to start protecting yourself. Or, you can be smart now and spend a few minutes making it harder for hackers to steal your data.
Know before you go.
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