Tip #25 – Stolen Credentials: What Now?

We’ve seen that Dark Web monitoring (included with Security+) is the most effective method for swiftly detecting stolen credentials…but what should you do after discovering that passwords are compromised?

First, follow advice from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and “DON’T PANIC!” (carrying a towel is optional).

Next, you need to notify every affected account holder.

Don’t get angry with the staff (or yourself); employees should feel free to be open about security lapses, and most thefts aren’t even the victims’ fault. Simply commit to quickly resetting all passwords related to the corrupted credentials.

Note: you’ll want to change passwords that are an exact match, but should also reset variations of that password. For example, if nameofmypet was found. I would also change passwords like nam30fmypet or nameofmypet1!. These variations are easy for hackers to test and very predictable.

Changing passwords can be a tedious task, but don’t delay. The first time I ran a Dark Web report on myself and saw the shocking amount of exposure, I spent hours resetting dozens of passwords…but it was a one-time inconvenience that has permitted better sleep ever since.

While changing your passwords, remember TO CREATE A UNIQUE PASSWORD FOR EVERY ACCOUNT and use long strings to increase their strength. One simple method is to combine three unrelated words into a single password, like Pastrami-Gelato-Tortilla (sorry, I’m writing this at lunchtime).

BONUS: Once you have unique passwords for every account, your risk is siloed, and you’ll never need to change more than one in response to future threats. 👍

Instead of personally choosing and tracking countless passwords in a stack of sticky notes, I use, and strongly suggest using a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. These services automatically generate and save unique passwords, autofill logins for quick access, and enable encrypted sharing of team credentials.

With hackers now locked out, you can assess whether they caused any damage.

Check all related accounts for altered data, withdrawn funds, or forged emails, and notify relevant institutions, authorities, or clients if anything is awry. A law firm security plan will guide you through this protocol, and a cybersecurity insurance policy will protect against financial expenses incurred (both included with Security+, of course 😉).

Facing vulnerability is a scary experience, but you got through it and are ready to guard against future breaches. We’ll address those steps next week; for now, just make yourself a tasty PastramiGelatoTortilla and contemplate the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

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