Have you been pwned? Your email address is your username on most websites. When a hacker steals data from a website or service, that information is often shared with other hackers on the darkweb. Here’s what it means and how to check.
What It Means
The word “pwned” is often thought to have come from the online gaming world. After defeating another player someone might type, “You’ve been owned”, but since it was frequently misspelled as “pwned” it soon became its own word, and now signifies that you have somehow lost something to someone else. Thus, when your private information is stolen and misused, you have been pwned.
You will want to check your email address to see if it has been released in any data breaches. Often, but not always, passwords are released as well, along with other sensitive data. If that data is available for bad guys to see, then your email and other accounts may be vulnerable to malicious hackers.
When I went to check my personal email address, I found that it had been involved in three data breaches. I then checked several of my passwords to see if those had been breached, and was relieved when the website we recommend said they were still healthy passwords. However, changing my password was still the next item on my to-do list.
How To Check
At TRECpro we recommend that you use haveIbeenpwned.com since it is simple, easy, and highly regarded in the field of cybersecurity. Once you navigate to the website, you’ll enter your email address and click the “pwned?” button to check. You will see your results almost instantly, and each negative result can be clicked on for an explanation.
What To Do Next
Should your email address be found among the millions of records of others who have been pwned, you will want to change your email password and passwords on other sites that use the email address for the username. When doing so, be sure to pick a strong password and then never use it anywhere else! Since your email account is how you verify and secure your other online accounts, its security is paramount and it should always have its own password.
To make sure you stay safe in the future, we recommend the use of a password manager. There are a variety of options available to you, and if you’re interested in contracting with TRECpro for your online security, please contact us at [email protected] for more information.