RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you eat at McDonald's, shop at Walgreen's or use the web site Gawker, this might affect you. Internet hackers have attacked all three of those companies' web sites trying to get your personal information.
The security breaches on each company don't look to be related but many e-mail addresses and other personal information was stolen.
It appears these hackers are trying to use the information from these sites to find more of your information on other web sites. Tom Gallagher, with the Better Business Bureau, says seemingly harmless information like an account username can unlock the door to other pieces of valuable information.
"It's not benign information," he said. "They put some of this stuff together and they get a unique number for you, a unique name for you and the next thing you know they start compiling all that and bam, I promise you they'll have your social security information."
Hackers sent out an e-mail posing as McDonald's asking to fill out a survey, offering $90 for giving them your info. Hackers targeting Gawker used the information stolen there to hack Twitter accounts and send out spam tweets.
The problem is many people use the same password for multiple web sites, so if hackers can get your information from one web site, they may be able to get that information from your credit card company or your bank.
"They're going to know what your buying habits are, know where you buy, when you buy, they'll know when you're not home, they'll know everything about you," Gallagher said. "We have to safeguard that like we safeguard a hundred dollar bill in our pocket."
The best way to protect yourself is to use different passwords for different web sites and use strong passwords with capital letters and numbers.
The Better Business Bureau also recommends monitoring your credit card statements and check your credit score frequently.