The Better Business Bureau quotes a New York Times story, stating that a group of Russian computer criminals has hacked over 1.2 billion computer username and password combinations. 

Director of Communications at the Better Business Bureau based in Spokane, Washington, Chelsea McGuire, says this breach leads to the necessity of all computer users of changing their passwords as soon as possible.

"At this point we don't yet know which sites were hacked or usernames and passwords have been stolen, but now would be an ideal time for users to change their passwords," McGuire said. "Most of us don't change our passwords on a regular basis, but we should, especially in light of news like this."

McGuire offers tips on changing passwords.

"Using familiar words, names and numbers can make your passwords predictable and easy to hack," she said. "Random is ideal. A good way is to write down a sentence and then use the first letter in each word. For instance, 'I like to go to the store', then substitute the number 2 for the word 'to' in the password. Then, write down the sentence somewhere else and remember it."

McGuire said hackers don't particularly care who they attack, because information is what they're looking for.

"If you're using the same simple password for every site you access, like banking sites, shopping sites, anything that requires a username and password, the easier they are to remember, the easier it will be for a hacker to gain access," she said. "If a hacker gets into your email, they will have access to all your personal and business contacts. All the more reason to change your password often."

McGuire said passwords can be kept in a safe place, or on a thumb drive, as long as they are not accessible to hackers. She said to set your calendar to change passwords every six months, to make sure your information is not going to be compromised.

Director of Communications at the Better Business Bureau Chelsea McGuire

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