There are a number of scandalous types of news stories that have become so common place that we hardly notice them anymore. Government corruption, mass shootings, and data breaches are issues that should cause outrage, but instead we shrug our shoulders and move on: Until it impacts our life, that is.
According to Wikipedia, A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure information to an untrusted environment. Other terms for this phenomenon include unintentional information disclosure, data leak and also data spill.
You may be surprised to learn that nearly every major corporation in the US has had some type of data breach at one time or another. Some of these companies include 7-Eleven, JC Penney, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Apple, AT&T, The Texas Attorney General’s Office, Sony, Blue Cross Blue Shield, US Military, AOL, US Dept. of Vet Affairs, TJ Maxx, Countrywide Financial Corp, Ameritrade, Monster.com, Gap, Starbucks, US Department of Defense, EBay, Facebook, and Domino’s Pizza to name a few. This list goes on and on.
In 2005 there were only 2 major data breaches in the US. These breaches involved AOL, and Citigroup, where AOL had 92 Million records that were compromised and Citigroup reported that over 3 Million of their records were breached. So far in 2014 the number of records that have been compromised is staggeringly in the billions and the year is only half over. The number of records stolen in just EBay, Target and Adobe combined comes to 367 Million records.
Data breaches are not just limited to large corporations or government entities, many small to mid-size companies are having data breaches. In West Haven Florida, Splash Car Wash lost credit card records for 30,000 of its customers. A data breach at a children’s hospital in San Diego exposed 14,000 patients’ names, and personal information to thieves. Right here in Indiana a major university exposed the name, address and social security numbers of their graduates from 2011 to 2014.
Data breach and identity theft are wide spread; it’s growing; and it’s close to home.
Once a criminal has your name and personal information he can wreak havoc on your life. They can sell your name for about $25 to another criminal, or they can attempt to open credit cards, buy cars, and get loans in your name. Strangely enough though the criminal is not around when the bill collector tracks you down for payment. They can also assume your identity, which can lead to a whole other host of issues and problems.
In today’s world your credit rating is very important. It’s a determining factor in the amount of interest that you pay; it affects your insurance rates; it can affect your employment, and your children’s future. Therefore it is vitally important that we do everything that we can to protect our good name.
What can we do? There are both preventative and reactionary measures that we can take to protect both our credit and our identity. In part 2 of this column we will take a look at some of different things that you can do to protect yourself and your family.