On Your Side Alert: Make sure your email passwords are strong - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

On Your Side Alert: Make sure your email passwords are strong

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By now, you should know that you need to have a strong password. And from time to time you  need to change it. On Your Side Investigator Gray Hall explains why your email address is a hot commodity for cyber criminals.

This time it happened to be Yahoo that cyber criminals made their target. But on any given day, it could be any email service because your email address is that hot a commodity.

"You've tied it to every aspect of your life – life insurance, bank account, social media," said cyber expert Thresa Payton. "It is the key to your identity."

Here's how the Yahoo breach worked. It was a little different than hackers just forcing their way into Yahoo.

"They went into the underground market, picked up Yahoo email addresses and started basically trying to reset passwords, trying to force their way into the accounts," Payton said.

An underground market?  For email addresses?  Yes, they're that important.

"You almost have to protect your email address as you do your Social Security number," Payton said. And the best way to do that, she says, is to keep changing the password often.

"It's just something we think about but don't take into action," said computer user Trey Newton. Newton says he's a little overwhelmed by the recent breaches. "If I was Yahoo, I'd make it so no one could get into their account. You'd have to go in there and reset everything," Newton said. "That way we'd be forced into action."

Experts say watch for signs of compromise such as an increase in spam coming to you or coming from you. Yahoo has security teams focused on hacking attempts and cyber experts say this was a great proactive step on their part.

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