Have your passwords been hacked? All UK web users told to make simple check

Anyone with online accounts must make sure their security is up to scratch and their passwords have been made harder to crack. This new warning has been issued after the discovery of a major data leak which has seen nearly 10 billion private passwords exposed. A txt. file was posted on a popular hacking forum and appears to contain 9,948,575,739 private codes – that means it’s highly likely your account may be affected.

The hack, which has been given the name RockYou2024, is one of the biggest in history and it’s definitely not something you want to ignore.

“On a popular hacking form, a user has leaked a file that contains 9,948,575,739 unique plaintext passwords. The list appears to be a compilation of passwords that were obtained during several old and more recent data breaches,” the security team at Malwarebytes explained.

“To cybercriminals the list has some value because it contains real-world passwords.”

• Worst UK passwords confirmed – if yours is on this list you must change it now

If you think your passwords are weak or haven’t been changed in a while then it’s time to make some changes.

Some simple tweaks such as adding capital letters, symbols and numbers can make a huge difference and decrease the chances of you getting hacked. For example, if your password is currently “newcastle” then switching things to N£wcast1e instantly makes it far more secure.

It’s also a really good idea to apply two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible as this means hackers need more than just a password to log in and steal personal data. 2FA adds another layer of protection with a text or email sent to devices before a log in is accepted.

If you are worried that you might be a victim of this hack, there are several sites that will let you safely check your to see if they are affected.

Malwarebytes has its own digital footprint scanner and the team at Cybernews also offers a checking service. Another useful tool is Have I Been Pwned which also reveals passwords and accounts that have been targeted by password leaks.

As long as you make some changes and follow some simple password rules your accounts should stay safe from cyber crooks but don’t be complacent.

“An immediate priority for impacted individuals will be to be wary of communications around recent orders, as these could be fraudulent,” said Stephen Crow, Security Director at ANS.

“Malicious actors may seek to gain more data through targeted attacks using the information stolen.”

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