Virtually everyone living in Hertfordshire has had their passwords stolen – and they’re all up for sale on the dark web.
And now local businesses need to take greater steps to protect themselves, and stop hackers from breaking into their systems.
“This is such a huge problem, literally affecting everyone. Yet, so few people are aware of it,” said data security expert Paul Griffin from GCIS.
“Recent research has shown there are now 15 billion passwords available on the dark web.
“Most of them are available free; although highly desirable logins such as banking details, can be sold for up to £55.”
The dark web is a part of the internet that can’t be reached by using normal browsers. And it’s not indexed by search engines.
It’s where people buy and sell illegal items, especially personal data.
Passwords and login details are stolen all the time, when hackers break into large companies’ systems and download huge databases.
Twitter suffered a very high profile hack last month.
“If your password is stolen and you use the same password across multiple systems, that’s when you can quickly get into really big problems,” Paul added.
“If hackers can use stolen data to get into one system used by your business, they can sometimes leverage this to get into other systems. The worst thing they can do is access your email, as this lets them reset passwords and monitor all your communications.”
He added: “The only way round this is to do two things. First, you should use a different randomly generated password for every login. And second, use a password manager to keep track of all these passwords for you.”
GCIS was formed in 2001, and now looks after hundreds of local businesses in the Hertfordshire area.