EBay hack draws attention to passwords and data protection

(CNN) – Another massive hack is revealed, and now eBay users are asked to change their passwords. What makes a good password, and how can you keep your data safe from savvier hackers?

EBay has asked users to change their passwords, after revealing that hackers busted into a massive database two months ago, swiping user information that included names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

EBay has about 148 million active accounts, but the popular online auction site hasn’t said how many of them could have been affected, or how much information was stored in that particular database. The company said user passwords were encrypted, but hackers can always decrypt them.

Data breaches tend to get a lot of attention when financial information is compromised. So far, ebay says that wasn’t the case this time, but snagging personal information can pose trouble too. With an email address or phone number, hackers have a gateway to start other scams that could prompt consumers to reveal more information.

When you’re encouraged to change a password because of a hack or another major security problem like the recent “heartbleed” bug, don’t wait, and then change that password every six months or so. Avoid passwords that include personal information that’s easy to uncover online. Like your birthday, a spouse’s birthday or an address.

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