Data Breaches and You
idtheftquiz.org Article copyright 2012
LifeLock, the first 30 days Free & $11 OFF! for annual membership with code: DEFENSE
Click here for 30 days free and $11 OFF annual membership - DEFENSE
Warning: Late night reading of the following article may result in sleeplessness, vivid dreams or queasiness.
How could this have happened to you? You're always diligent about your home's security. The alarm system is still armed. The doors and windows are still locked. No one heard any strange noises in the night, or reported any shadowy characters hanging around the neighborhood. So how did the thieves get in?'
They didn't. The thieves stole your information from a corporate or government computer system. If you have a Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card, or if you've ever used a credit or debit card at Sam's Club, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, or Bob's Stores, you may be in grave of ID theft.
If you've managed somehow to avoid owning any credit or debit cards, you're still not in the clear. If you've ever used TD Ameritrade for online portfolio management, visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory for research purposes, or are an employee of the Greenville, SC school district, you're at risk of ID theft like everybody else.
Here are more of the gory details on these recent hackings:
TJX, Inc. (the parent company of discount retailers TJ Maxx and Marshall and others): As many as 94 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen by hackers and has been credited as the biggest hacker heist in history. (If you're having a hard time getting your head around the magnitude of this security breach, keep in mind the US population just hit 300 million in 2006.)
CardSystems: 40 million Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover accounts accessed through an unsecured network. CardSystems processes $15 billion of transactions annually for the credit card companies.
Sam's Club: If you bought gasoline, your credit or debit account number may have been exposed.
TD Ameritrade: In this case it seems the hackers only got to the database containing the customers' contact information, and not their account numbers. An estimated 6.3 million customers were affected by the security breach.
Greenville County School District (S. Carolina): Names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses of 500 employees hacked from a database. Federal Homeland Security officials first identified the problem that affected a number of other state agencies state that were accessing the same medical benefits database as the school district. (Note: This incident should not be confused with an earlier security breach that stretched from 1999 to 2006. That one occurred when the school district auctioned off their old computers, but repeatedly failed to wipe the hard drives Ð despite several warnings from two buyers. In that case contact information as well as medical information, personnel evaluations, driver's license numbers, and juvenile justice records of 100,000 students and 1,000 employees were revealed.
If you want to further assess your risk level, find more about these and other security breeches at http://etiolated.org and http://attrition.org/dataloss/. And in the words of Geena Davis from the 1986 horror film "The Fly," you should be afraid. Be very afraid.