Who Lost Your Data In 2015?
It’s probable that your personal data was leaked this year. In 2015, over one billion personal records were illegally accessed, up 54% from the previous year. The stolen data included financial and medical data, email addresses, Social Security Numbers, and more sensitive information. Learn more and find out if YOUR personal info was leaked...
Major Data Breaches of 2015
While a final count of 2015’s looting is not yet available, we can look back on some of the biggest data breaches that occurred this year -- at least, the ones that we know of.
Most recently, tech toy maker Vtech was hacked in late November. The records of 4.8 million adult customers were stolen, but even worse is the theft of 6.4 million children’s profiles, many containing their parents' names, email addresses and home addresses, and the kids’ birthdays, names, and genders. Vtech says that the kids’ photos and chat logs it stores are encrypted. However, it seems that their encryption is easily cracked. Fortunately, this breech seems to be the work of a “white hat” hacker who has pledged not to release the stolen data.
Anthem, the second largest health insurer in the U. S., lost the records of 80 million subscribers and 19 million non-subscribers in February, 2015, to take an early lead in the “biggest data breach” race. The stolen data included client names, dates of birth, physical and email addresses, medical IDs and Social Security numbers. (For more on that, see Medical Identity Theft On The Rise.)
For over a year, hackers quietly siphoned the credit card data of guests of Donald Trump’s chain of hotels. The breach was discovered and closed in June, 2015, but went unreported until the end of September.
Lawsuits were filed in October on behalf of 15 million T-mobile customers whose credit histories were stolen from Experian, a credit reporting agency that T-mobile used for credit checks. Ironically, Experian makes $4 billion a year off its “data protection services.”
Were YOU Breached?
Stock brokerage firm Scottrade informed 4.6 million customers of a data breach that lasted for several months, from late 2013 until February, 2014. Incredibly, Scottrade didn’t know it had been hacked until the FBI notified the company in August, 2015. Four crooks were indicted in November on charges of hacking Scottrade, JPMorgan Chase, and other financial firms.
I also strongly recommend that you see my articles on How To Get Your Free Credit Report and 10 Tips for Identity Theft Protection.
I needn’t do more than mention the Ashley Madison hack, right? Couldn’t happen to a nicer 37 million people looking to cheat on their spouse or significant other.
In mid-July drugstore CVS shut down its online photo processing website and warned customers that their personal data, including credit card number, “may have been” stolen from a third-party contractor, Canada-based PNI Digital Media, which ran the photo service for CVS. The photo sites of Rite Aid, Costco and Wal-Mart Canada also were affected. PNI is owned by office supplies giant Staples.
Los Angeles-based UCLA Health didn’t even encrypt the health data of 4.5 million patients. The network for four Southern California hospitals announced in July, 2015, that it was hacked in October, 2014, but didn’t discover the breach until the following May. UCLA Health can’t even determined what data was stolen, “if any.”
Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield revealed in August, 2015, that the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and a variety of account information including claims and financial payment details of 10.5 million customers had been stolen. Although the data was encrypted, the hackers gained administrative access that allowed them to get the encryption keys. The hackers had access to Excellus’ network for two years before the breach was discovered!
The in-depth dossiers of 22 million U. S. government employees were stolen from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in June, 2015. While not the biggest breach, this on includes all the dirt that can be dug up in a security clearance investigation that includes interviews with one’s family, friends, and neighbors.
The same teenaged hackers who cracked the AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan also broke into the Joint Automated Booking System (JABS), a national clearinghouse for arrest and booking records maintained by the FBI. Such real-time data would be very valuable to gossip columnists, terrorists wondering where their colleagues have gone, drug gangs, and others who would like to know the law is onto them.
Everything is Fine???
In many of these and other cases, the breached companies hasten to assure everyone that “no credit card or banking data was taken.” That’s nice, but it’s the least of a consumer’s worries. The data that has been stolen allows hackers to build profiles of consumers which can be used to steal their identities. It’s easy to cancel a credit card (and repudiate bogus charges) or close a checking account; it is much harder to convince a district attorney that you are not the guy who robbed the liquor store and left his driver’s license at the scene!
It’s horrifying to note the lag times between hacks and their discovery. Equally scandalous is the amount of time that passes between discovery of a data breach and notification of affected victims (five months, in OPM’s case). The “help” offered to victims is pathetic, typically a year or two of credit monitoring services.
Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity.com subscribed to one such service for two years and has researched the entire field. His conclusion: “If you’re being offered free monitoring, it probably can’t hurt to sign up, but you shouldn’t expect the service to stop identity thieves from ruining your credit.”
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Have you been affected by a data breach? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Dec 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Who Lost Your Data In 2015? (Posted: 4 Dec 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved