Jun 12, 2012 05:02 PM EDT

LinkedIn security breach and what you can learn

LinkedIn is a professional social networking website, founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003. It is a site used mainly for professional networking and has attracted the eyes of many seeking careers or those looking to build a professional online profile.

Last week, approximately 6.4 million LinkedIn user passwords were stolen by a Russian hacker, who then published the stolen hashes on an online forum.

"Our first priority was to lock down and protect the accounts associated with the decoded passwords that we believed were at the greatest risk. We've invalidated those passwords and contacted those members with a message that lets them know how to reset their passwords," said LinkedIn director Vicente Silveira in a blog post.

LinkedIn is actively working with the FBI to pursue the hacker or hackers behind the crime. The company has already begun taking new security measures to ensure member protection.

"We continue to execute on our security roadmap, and we'll be releasing additional enhancements to better protect our members," Vicente Silveira, a director at LinkedIn, said via a company blog post.

Although this security breach was done in an intricate manner, there are still ways to keep your password(s) safe. Check out the following tips:

1. Complexity is key

When it comes to creating a password, skip simplicity and ensure complexity. You don't want your password to be a code that's easy to crack.  Mix up the cases and insert letters, numbers and symbols. "qwerty" and "abcd1234" are just two examples of password patterns you want to avoid.

2. Diversify your password

Create a different password for each website you use or wherever you access your personal data. Using the same password for sites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. isn't a very wise idea. Why? Because a hacker who gains access to one account, could then obtain access to all your social networking sites, including contact information, photos and other info.

3. Make it Long

Your password should be at least eight characters or long, but longer is definitely better.

4. Don't leave it lying around

Having a bad memory is no excuse to have your passwords lying around for anyone to find. Lock them up in a file cabinet, safe box, or other storage device. Writing them down on a sticky note and keeping them "hidden" under your keyboard is a definite no-no.

5. Don't reveal your password to others

It's that simple: Don't share your password. However, if it's required that someone must obtain your password, simply change it before giving it to them and then change it back afterwards.

6. Skip the save

For a quick, easy log-in later most people save their username and password, especially on social networking sites. Bad idea. Instead, take the extra time to re-enter your username and password manually each time that you log in, because it's better to be safe then sorry!

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