Your Stolen Data Is Doing a Lot of Work Online

Massive data breaches are just a fact of life now. While you may not have heard about any since credit reporting agency Equifax blew up in 2017, more than 50 "data spills" were reported that year, affecting at least 2.3 million logins. Thanks to the laws of economics, it's go big or go home for hackers these days. A new report shows us just how big, and it's not comforting.

Quartz reports that more than 9 in 10 attempts to log onto ecommerce sites are actually attacks using stolen data. Only about 3 percent of those are successful, but that small sliver of identity thefts can cost retailers and banks alone nearly $8 billion each year. While these hackers do have a type, it's important that everyone looks out for their personal information.

Definitely spend some time going through your various online accounts and changing the passwords. You can get password-management software that will keep track of everything for you, especially if you're worried you won't think up a clever enough password on your own. This isn't just good advice for websites where you spend money: Web forums are another target for identity thieves. One Lady Gaga fansite lost security over 1 million accounts, including identifying information like birthdates, email addresses, and passwords.

There is a little bit of good news amid all this. While data breaches remain a threat, the number of mass incidents has actually plateaued, even though opportunities for data spills continue to grow. That's a promising sign that protections are getting stronger for your information online. It always pays to help those systems along proactively, though.