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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

Why You Should Dust Off – And Delete – Your Old Accounts

Hackers have compromised user data from 360,000 MySpace accounts in a recently confirmed data breach.

Take a peek in the furthest corner of your garage, behind the boxes of old toys in your attic or beneath the crumpled clothes at the bottom of your closet – what will you find? A dusty 8-track player? A forgotten pile of Beanie Babies? A faded pair of bell-bottom jeans? We all tend to hold onto our old things, even if we haven’t thought about them in years. Sometimes, we don’t keep them for any sentimental reason, we simply forget they exist altogether.

If you’ve been using the internet for more than a few years, chances are something similar has happened with your old accounts. Whether on dated social networks eventually wiped away by Facebook, long-expired music players, instant messaging software or old email clients, you may still have accounts you haven’t logged into in years. Slowly but surely, you went from signing on every day, to once a week, to just a few times a year. Although forgetting about these accounts only felt natural as they slowly lost their relevancy, the data left sitting inside them may be far from irrelevant to potential identity thieves.

While it would be easy to assume cybercriminals have given as little thought to the now-defunct sites you used a decade ago, a recent data breach suggests they can have a long memory.

Data breach compromises MySpace accounts

On May 30, Time Inc., owner of one-time Facebook rival MySpace, confirmed a breach that affected as many as 360 million user accounts. Hackers made away with username and password information in the attack, the company wrote on its blog. The post also noted that the affected accounts were all created before June 2013, before the social network site reinvented itself as a music marketing platform.

Once one of the web’s most popular destinations, MySpace has turned into a ghost town since users left the site for Facebook in droves during the late 2000’s. It is still unclear how many of the compromised accounts had been used recently before the attacks, The Washington Post reported. That being said, the hackers’ interest in these mostly forgotten accounts serves as a reminder that even if we don’t use out accounts any longer, the data they contain could still be used to commit identity theft today.

One of the most salient risks for those affected by such attacks is that they have reused their passwords on more current accounts. ID thieves may not be able to do much in the way of collecting up-to-date information or making purchases on such an old account, but by getting access to one set of keys on your key ring, they may be able to open newer doors on accounts containing accurate personal information and active credit cards.

What’s more, because it can be so difficult to remember the password you may have used on a social networking site a decade ago, going back to change those old passwords can pose a major challenge, Wired reported. Therefore, it is especially important not to recycle passwords between any accounts. For each new account you set up, always create a unique password. When you can, the best way to protect your identity from these kinds of breaches is to delete old accounts altogether.

Working with Identity Guard can also help you improve your identity theft protection. From password managers that help you keep track of the dozens of unique passwords required to keep your accounts secure, to credit monitoring service that can alert you of certain activity that may indicate fraud, our services can go a long way toward protecting your identity, especially after a data breach. Contact us today to get started.