Computer security experts have slammed the safety of passwords after a Russian crime ring hacked more than 1.2 billion username/password combinations.

Unified identity services firm, Centrify, say a record security breach by a Russian crime gang proves traditional security measures are no longer sufficient in protecting our personal and corporate privacy.

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The warning comes after a Milwaukee firm, Hold Security, discovered the confidential records, which was gathered from 420,000 websites, incuding from major companies.

The crime ring, Cybervor, hacked more than 1.2 billion username/password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses from sites of all sizes, and from all parts of the world.

On the same day, Target's stock tumbled after news that its massive data breach cost the company more than US$148 million.

Individuals, as well as companies, are paying a huge price because traditional security measures -- antivirus software, passwords, VPNs and firewalls -- are no longer sufficient, according to Centrify.

Centrify security strategist Chris Webber, said these vulnerabilities arose from over-dependence on user names and passwords for security.

"The real problem is that hackers quickly move beyond our credit card data to our usernames and passwords, which are a much bigger route to our money," he said.

"To simplify things: what if you only had one key to every lock in your life -- house, car, office, kid's dorm room, etc -- then imagine that key unlocked every valuable part of your family's life, and had your name etched into it forever.

"When hackers compromise our usernames and passwords, they have the key to all of our locks. We need to demand a better online security solution.

Webber said we needed to eliminate usernames and passwords, and replace them with something that's far more secure.

"The technology exists. Businesses know about it. IT departments know about it," he said.

"Now we need to demand that we all start using it. Until then, the big companies will keep getting hacked, but you and I will be the ones that keep getting stolen from."