PasswordsMore than 2 million users’ passwords for social networking and email websites including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and LinkedIn were stolen and published online, according to the BBC. The information was taken from computers that have been infected with a malicious keystroke logging software, allowing the hackers to gather information directly from the browser.

Security experts believe that the information was then published online by a criminal gang. Nearly all of the passwords stolen with the malicious software were weak passwords, which mean they did not include any combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

How to protect your online accounts and passwords

When hackers or criminals steal passwords for a  social networking account or email, their intentions usually are to gather as much personal information — such as full name, birth date and address — about the victim in the hopes of stealing their identity or selling it to other identity thieves. By following these two steps, you’re making sure that the thieves cannot steal anymore of your information as well as protecting any information on your computer or Internet browser.

1. Change your passwords ASAP: By changing all of your passwords, you’re securing the personal information that you include on the hacked websites, and verifying that the thieves cannot gather more of your information. You should choose a strong password that is at least eight characters, and include any combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to create a strong online password.

2. Get an Internet security software: If you were one of the 2 million who’s passwords were hacked, then it means that you either don’t have any Internet security software at all, or you don’t have a reliable Internet security software because the thieves got the information through malicious software that was downloaded onto your computer. The best way to protect your information and your computer in the future is to get a reliable Internet security software that will prevent any malicious software from getting into your computer. Check out our Internet security software reviews to see which service will best fit your computer-protection needs.

If you think that you may have already fallen victim to identity theft, then we recommend that you check out our tips on how to restore your identity.