If skeptical friends suddenly ask why you’re sending strange advertising links on Facebook or Twitter, it usually means that the account has been hacked. Criminals are also targeting access data for e-mail addresses, online banking, Amazon, Netflix and other online accounts. This is how you prevent misuse of your online accounts.

Instead of just relying on a password to secure their account, users should secure themselves with another login factor. Depending on the provider, this can be an SMS with a login code to a stored telephone number or the coupling with an app such as “Google Authenticator” or “andOTP”. For some apps, especially online banking, two-factor authentication is now the standard.

It may seem futile to many people, but if you really want to protect your accounts, use a different password on each page. Because even a fundamentally secure password becomes worthless once it has been leaked and the same character string is used for multiple logins. Criminals often obtain login data from social media channels via leaks or hacks in large password databases. Regardless of which leak they use to access the login data: They then simply try one after the other to which other pages they can dial in with it.

In order to be able to use secure and individual passwords, almost all common operating systems and Internet browsers now offer integrated password managers. These generate and store a secure and unique password for each newly created login. The possible downside: If you ever want to log into your accounts from devices other than your own, it can get complicated because the generated passwords are complex and it’s almost impossible to memorize them all. Some services therefore offer the option of storing your passwords in the cloud so that you have them at hand at all times, such as “Google Passwords” or Apple’s “Keychain”.

The “Have I been pawned” page helps to find out whether your own data has been leaked and whether other accounts are in danger. Here you enter your e-mail address and the service compares it with publicly available data leaks. If your own information is part of the leak, you should immediately change your login data or method on the relevant page.

In addition, so-called phishing is still one of the biggest gateways for stolen login data. Criminals send fake e-mails with dangerous links and pretend to be reputable senders such as the post office, train station or bank. Tip: If you are unsure about an e-mail, do not click on the link in the e-mail, but open the page of the relevant shop or provider directly in the browser.