Head to haveibeenpwned.com and enter your email address (“pwned” is slang for compromised). This free service, run by a computer security researcher, will tell you if some of your passwords are out in the open.
Although some of the hacks took place years ago, many passwords were in a scrambled form that hackers have only recently decoded.
A password manager makes it easy by generating random passwords for you and storing them securely. Lastpass and Keepassx are good free options.
All reputable websites will offer a secure connection, denoted by a padlock and “https://” in the address bar, but fraudsters can set up secure websites too. It’s essential to check that the address is correct.
Emails from your bank and shopping sites can easily be faked and fraudsters are getting much better at it. They’ll trick you into clicking a link that looks like the real thing and steal your password. Instead, head to the real login page by typing the address into your web browser.
Criminals can take over your computer so install updates as soon as they’re available.
Free software may contain malicious code. Be judicious about where you get it from.
Hard drives of discarded machines may have data that can be sold on. BleachBit is a free program that deletes your data thoroughly.