Last week, 143 million Americans had their Social Security numbers hacked from the Equifax data warehouse. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s time you paid attention. This hack could lead to even more cyber security risks if your data is sold on the open market.
Equifax is one of the large corporations that report on your credit rating. When you go for a loan, this is one of the agencies where retailers can check your credit worthiness.
Equifax keeps lots of your sensitive information on file: driver license numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, and birth dates, in addition to Social Security card data. The theft of this sensitive information is very dangerous and potentially could cause a host of problems for hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S.
Here’s what you need to know about this latest round of cyber security risks.
When Did the Breach Occur?
Equifax discovered the data breach on July 29th. They alerted consumers and the public on September 17th. The company issued an apology and suggested that a review of their security systems was being undertaken to mitigate future risk. The company did not say why more than a month elapsed before letting consumers know that there was a problem.
Were You Affected?
Equifax set up a website at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com for consumers to check if they were affected. You can also sign up for free data monitoring at the Equifax site.
But Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security says credit monitoring is basically too little too late, because, “Credit monitoring services rarely prevent identity thieves from stealing your identity. The most you can hope for from these services is that they will alert you as soon as someone does steal your identity.”
Krebs also points out that Equifax is offering free credit monitoring from their very own service line. What happens with the “free credit monitoring” runs out? Equifax will ask you to continue the service – for a fee, of course.
Krebs concludes his comments by saying, “The credit bureaus…have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data, and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers.”
Mitigating Cyber Security Risks
Now that you’re worried about your personal data, here are four things you can do immediately to mitigate your risk:
- First, check the Equifax site to see if you were affected. If you were, sign up for the free credit monitoring service.
- Second, check your free credit report here. You’re looking for pings that show someone checked your credit, for example, if an identity thief tried to open a new credit card account.
- Third, place fraud alerts on your credit. Go here to find out how.
- Finally, consider placing a security freeze on your credit files. There is a small fee to do this, and it can be unwieldy to manage. The benefit is that no one can look at your data to issue a new line of credit without your knowledge and consent.
The Equifax hack is just one more example of a rising tide of corporate cyber breaches. To combat this increase in sophisticated cyber security attacks, businesses need to develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy and train their employees to be on the lookout for threats. Contact us to discuss how managed IT services can help your company combat cyber security risks.