How to Protect Yourself from the Equifax Data Breach
Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies disclosed that hackers compromised Social Security and driver’s license numbers as well as names, birthdates, addresses and some credit cards on more than 143 million Americans. If you have a credit profile, you were probably affected.
Credit reporting companies collect and sell vast troves of consumer data from your buying habits to your credit worthiness, making this quite possibly the most destructive data security breach in history. By hacking Equifax, the criminals were able to get all of your personally identifying information in a one-stop shop. This is the third major cybersecurity breach at Equifax since 2015, demonstrating that they continue to place profits over consumer protection. Ultimately, their negligence will erode their margins, their credibility and their position as one of the big three.
Identity thieves prey on those who are most vulnerable. You may be in the process of cleaning up your lives, but predators running disaster scams may want to clean up on you by stealing your valuable private information.
As we learned from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, one of the most despicable side effects of a natural disaster is the massive increase in reported cases of identity theft in the affected areas. Thieves take advantage of those who are vulnerable, and those who have suffered flooding, wind damage and the effects of the storm are more vulnerable than ever. Imagine how devastating it would it be to apply for a line of credit to help your family recover from the storm only to find out that your entire net worth now belongs to a thief.
Here are some of the highest priority actions for victims of Hurricane Harvey to take once they have taken care of their immediate safety needs.
Honestly, we don’t know yet. There was a time when our voting preferences, our political leanings, our policy choices were our own business. Now they are someone else’s business, quite literally. There are so many stories coming out about Donald Trump’s connections to and collusion with the Russians that it is getting hard to keep these accusations straight. Here’s the latest:
Trump Russia Investigation Update
The key word is help. As in, actively provide information that the Russians may not have been able to discover on their own. “Help” is not a synonym for encourage, appreciate or enjoy.
Without getting too political (because after all, this is a cyber security blog), here are the basics of the Trump-Russia Investigation from a cyber security perspective:
- The Trump campaign had possession of a huge amount of information about American voters from Cambridge Analytica, the data mining firm hired to help collect and use social media information to identify and persuade voters to vote (or not vote), through an activity known as political micro-targeting.
New Evidence Points to Russian Hacking of U.S. Power Grid
Russian hacking of the United States’ power grid isn’t just probable, it is already happening.
Hackers recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas. It appears they were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid, likely to be exploited at a later, more critical time. In a related case, hackers also recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry. Although none of the security teams analyzing the breaches have linked the work to a particular hacking team or country, the chief suspect is Russia. Why are they the primary suspect? Because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine across several attacks and seem to be testing more and more advanced methods.
CYBER SECURITY EXPERTS SCREAM: IT’S NOT ABOUT MONEY, IT’S ABOUT INFLUENCE!
What will it take for the world to believe that cyber warfare, like the latest NotPetya Attack, is real and it is HERE NOW?
Will it take your company ceasing operations for the day, as hundreds of companies in at least 64 countries were forced to do?
Will it take your long-awaited surgery being cancelled, as occurred for many patients at Heritage Valley Health Systems in Pittsburgh?
Or will it ultimately take people dying (think power grids, airport operations, nuclear power plants being controlled) before everyone takes notice?
We read the headlines: another ransomware attack has hit– blah, blah, blah. It almost gets annoying hearing about them! Until you really think of the implications above. Yes, this time it mostly affected Ukraine, but someday, it will be YOU AND ME!
Our national security depends on cyber security, and Russian hacking threatens those defenses. Every day that I come to work, I see an erosion of traditional power structures at the hands of increasing cyber threats. The hacking of Yahoo by Russian operatives and the DNC are two such examples that have potentially shifted the balance of power from our marketplace and political sphere into the hands of Vladimir Putin, Russian cyber criminals and anyone piggybacking on their technology. Now that Roger Stone, an administration advisor, has admitted to contact with the DNC hacker (Guccifer 2.0), the ties are too direct to ignore. But we shouldn’t be doing this for purely political reasons, we should be doing it to clear our President and his administration of wrongdoing so that they can go on about governing the country and implementing their vision.
Click the image below for a PDF of 7 Steps to Preventing Identity Theft
Protecting your personal identity doesn’t need to be difficult. But it does take a bit of effort to minimize your digital footprint. The following action items are among the first you should take to protect yourself and your family. From there, we can go into greater detail on protecting the smartphones, laptops and Internet accounts that are increasingly being targeted.
Summary of ID Theft Protection Action Items
- Opt out of financial junk mail by registering at www.OptOutPreScreen.com.
- Shred any paper documents that would go in the trash with a durable and safe confetti document shredder.
Election Hacking Confirmed: The NSA, CIA and FBI have universally concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered with and quite possibly changed the outcome of our Presidential election. Regardless of who you voted for, your vote has been hacked. If you are a Clinton supporter, you face the prospect of your candidate having lost the election due to manipulation. If you are a Trump supporter, it’s possible that our future President’s mandate and credibility have been significantly undermined and eroded.
This is a major loss for both sides of the political spectrum – it is a massive loss for America as voiced by politicians both Republican and Democrat. In case you haven’t had time to keep up with the findings of the Director of National Intelligence, here are the nuts and bolts of what the NSA, CIA and FBI agreed on unanimously and with high confidence (a nearly unprecedented occurrence in intelligence history).
It’s almost Cyber Monday, so tell me something – why do you shop online? Because it’s super convenient! Or because you get better pricing? Maybe it’s because you’re allergic to hand-to-hand combat on Black Friday? I’m a huge fan of shopping online to save time, money and brain cells. But if you have bad surfing hygiene, you’re just asking identity thieves to go on a shopping spree with your money. And it’s so easy to avoid if you know how. Which you’re about to.
Thanks for joining me here on Sileo on Security, where we believe there’s no need to fear online shopping if you surf wisely. I want to share nine habits with you over the next three episodes that will keep your digital shopping cart safer than the real thing.