By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Computer hackers may have pulled off the biggest data breach in history.

Security experts say a Russian gang stole more than one billion usernames and passwords and 500,000 email addresses.

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It’s concerning considering we have a password for just about everything these days: email accounts, bank accounts, and of course, social media.

For hackers, passwords are like gold. They can be used for spam or identity theft, which is why experts recommend changing your passwords frequently.

“They should certainly change their passwords now. Because 1.2 billion of them are out on the market,” John Carney said.

To put that in perspective, 1.2 billion is the entire population of India — the second most populated country in the world. Carney is the founder of Carney Forensics, a digital evidence company.

He sees a future where passcodes rely less on words, and rely more on touch and sight.

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“Apple’s latest iPhone has a fingerprint. Samsung’s latest Galaxy phone has a fingerprint,” Carney said.

Carney believes biometric technology like fingerprint security and even retinal scans, will become even more popular. Even two-step security, like supplying an eye scan along with a passcode, may be what it takes to keep hackers away.

“We all need safer ways to access our information, access our data, because right now just isn’t cutting it. It really isn’t,” Carney said.

He also recommends looking into software tools called “password managers.”

In a nutshell, you use a single passcode to get into an encrypted vault of all your passwords.

That kind of software can also create unique passwords for you every week or every month.

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Carney recommends using a 15-20 character pass phrase, like your favorite movie or book rather than an actually word or name.

John Lauritsen