Monitoring Your Data After a Breach
You might think younger generations would be the least likely to closely monitor their finances, but according to a recent survey from CreditCards.com, this isn’t the case. Checking your credit report and credit score following a data breach is important, and apparently millennials are the most likely generation to do so since the Equifax breach.
This information stands in contrast to half of the US adults surveyed, who have not kept themselves apprised and checked either since the incident. Ignore your financial data at your own risk, is the only response to this that I can say. The Equifax breach exposed millions of Social Security numbers, birth dates, even some driver’s licenses and credit card numbers. Even if one hasn’t experienced any irregularities to this point, cyber criminals are in no rush. To quote Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at the survey’s sponsor, “Once your information is out there, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. People need to adjust their financial routine accordingly.”
In the wake of the breach, several credit card companies started including people’s credit scores on their monthly statements, while some also recommended utilizing a credit freeze to prevent new accounts being opened under your name. Both are protective measures intended to facilitate consumer monitoring and reduce the risk of identity theft and other types of fraud.
Certainly, staying vigilant with one’s data has never been more crucial, and studies like this do little to discourage it. Nor does news that security researcher Troy Hunt has added more than 80 million records from almost 3,000 new breaches to his useful site, Have I Been Pwned. Whether or not all the breaches are new is unclear, but Hunt determined to upload what he hadn’t seen before, after finding and distilling 8.8GB worth of data breaches in one zip file. Either way, he continues to do a great public service.
Even government data isn’t safe. Indeed, a BitSight report assessing 1,212 government contractors and 122 federal agencies finds the former substantially lacking in security compared to the latter. Low security scores here are attributed to, among other factors, poor encryption and email protection. Moreover, the healthcare and defense industries reported experiencing the most data breaches since 2016.
All of which is to say that consumers and government alike need to better meet the challenge posed by increased cybersecurity risk. Whether it’s simply checking your credit information, or an agency making sure its potential contractors are up to security par, don’t let hackers catch you off guard.