Firstly, no the spelling of ‘Pwned’ is not due to our failure to use our spell checker. The word ‘Pwned’ is in fact a corruption or leetspeak slang term (‘Leetspeak’ also known as eleet or leet, same being an alternative alphabet for many languages that are used primarily on the Internet), and derived from the word “Owned.” (We understand that the word originated with the online computer game called ‘Warcraft’, where a map designer accidentally misspelled the word “Owned.”)
But why the above question we hear you ask? Well to answer a question with a question; “How aware are you of how much of your personal private computer data; including account ‘Usernames’, ‘Email Addresses’, ‘Encrypted Passwords’ and ‘Password Hints’ have been made available or publicly exposed by computer hackers”.
Examples of just four popular used accounts of some 153 such sites known to have been compromised.
[A] In October 2013, 153 million Adobe Accounts were breached by computer hackers. Data compromised with each account included IDs, Usernames, Email Addresses, Encrypted Passwords and Password Hints.
[B] In May 2014, the Avast Anti-Virus Forum was hacked, with 423k member records exposed. Data compromised again included Usernames, Emails Addresses and Passwords.
[C] In mid-2012, Dropbox Data was breached which exposed the stored credentials of tens of millions of customers. Again in August 2016, Dropbox forced password resets for their customers whom they believed may have been put at risk. Data totalling over 68 million records was subsequently traded online, included Email Addresses and Passwords.
[D] In May 2016, LinkedIn had 164 million Email Addresses and Passwords publicly exposed. While originally hacked in 2012, this data remained out of sight, before eventually being offered for sale.
[Other widely used accounts breached in the past include Tesco, Sony, Win7Vista, and numerous Gaming and Torrent sites.]
Question: How will I know if my personal data has been compromised?
Answer: Simply click HERE and add your Email address or username to the appropriate box, before clicking on the word ‘pwned’, latter positioned on right hand side of this same box. Then scroll down the page, just a little, to see the number of accounts / breaches in which you were ‘pwned’ in.
Question: I have an account which has been ‘pwned’, so what should I do now to correct this data exposure?
Answer: Go, as soon as possible, and change all passwords to named accounts ‘pwned’. If you cannot remember the associated password with any of your accounts, simply hit the tab which permits a request from you to change your password on the basis ‘Forgot My password’. (You will receive a personal email permitting such changes.) When changing your password remember the wisdom of Sheldon Cooper (From TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”), and I quote “1234 is not a secure password”. Use at least 8 symbols including uppercase and lowercase symbols, alphabet letters and numbers.
N.B. Even more importantly, it goes without saying; ensure that none of your individual accounts currently use the same password.