Google warns that BILLION passwords were cracked – check your accounts online now
BILLIONS of passwords for online accounts have been leaked across the web in recent years – and it’s easy to tell if yours are one of them.
Google has designed a handy tool that allows users of its Chrome web browser to quickly check if their online credentials are compromised.
The tool, called Password Checkup, is a free add-on for Chrome released in 2019 with the goal of boosting users’ online security.
It scans known databases of usernames and passwords that have been stolen from websites by hackers and made available online.
The tool, for example, is likely inspired by a number of recent major online breaches, such as the LinkedIn hack in 2012.
The heist saw the usernames and passwords of 6.5 million LinkedIn users stolen by cyber crooks and sold online.
Google Password Checking encourages you to change your usernames and passwords if they have been disclosed by hackers.
It displays a warning every time you log into a website using “any of over 4 billion usernames and passwords” that have been compromised.
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“Since our launch, more than 650,000 people have participated in our first experiment,” said Jennifer Pullman of Google in 2019.
“In the first month alone, we scanned 21 million usernames and passwords and reported over 316,000 as unsafe – 1.5% of logins scanned by the extension. “
There is obviously a huge risk for anyone whose username and passwords from different sites have been hacked.
It is important to immediately change your login information to stay secure.
But even passwords downloaded online without an associated username can put you at risk.
If you use a very simple password, chances are someone else is doing it too – and it could be that they themselves have been hacked.
Hackers buy huge lists of these compromised passwords from many different sites because people often reuse them.
Thus, hackers are much more likely to gain access to an account by forcing a long list of “known” cracked passwords than by trying out random letters or numbers.
“Hijackers routinely attempt to log into sites on the Web with every login exposed by a third-party breach,” Pullman said.
“If you use strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts, that risk disappears.”
How to verify your password
Free password checker software can be loaded on Google Chrome and lets you know if your account details have been compromised during a cyber attack or data breach.
Once installed, the Chrome extension runs in the background of your browser and checks the login information you used.
If your password or username matches a Google database of over 4 billion compromised credentials, the software will report them.
An alert that appears on your screen reads: “The password checker detected that your password for [website] is no longer secure due to a data breach. You should change your password now.
If a new data breach occurs, the tool will let you know if any of your passwords have been compromised the next time you sign in to Chrome.
It gives you all of the exposed accounts in a small list that you can click to change your passwords.
All information is encrypted and Google says it has no way of seeing your data.
“We created Password Checkup so that no one, including Google, can know your account details,” Google said.
“Password Checkup was designed with privacy in mind. It never reports any identifying information about your accounts, passwords, or device.
You can download Password Checkup from the Chrome online store by clicking here.
Alternatively, the popular Have I Been Pwned web tool also lets you check if you’ve ever been hacked.
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