There was a time when hackers sought out retailers’ computer networks, specifically their point-of-sale credit card networks, and used that access to steal credit card and debit card information. Over time, there’s been a shift in the way hackers operate.
The reality of most data breaches and hacking events is far less sophisticated than you might think. Thanks to some simple tools that can be found online, everyone from an international cybercrime ring to a person living up the street could be stealing information.
Companies, organizations and agencies that hold and transmit people’s personal information should keep it reasonably secure from unauthorized access and use. But what if there is a data breach that exposes the information? How should the breached entity help those affected? Should it offer them identity theft services?
In the Office of Personnel Management breach and the Anthem healthcare breach—just to name two of the record-setting numbers of data breaches that happen each year—millions of US citizens had all of their highly-sensitive personal identifiable information (PII) stolen by hackers. This data included names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and in some cases even fingerprints, which virtually handed over these citizens’ entire identities to criminals.
When news breaks of another large-scale data breach, especially one that affects millions of consumers at a time, it’s all too easy to envision a faceless hacker who sits safely outside the reach of the law. But the reality of data breaches is that a significant number of them are “inside job” attacks, whether intentional or accidental.
Medical data breaches continue to happen at an alarming rate. It’s bad enough that someone has made off with your complete identity thanks to the amount of information a doctor’s office or medical center needs, they’ve also potentially stolen your complete medical history, and there are many different ways that can hurt you.
Data breaches are a possible threat to any business, no matter how big or small and no matter what type of industry. In fact, since the Identity Theft Resource Center started tracking data breaches in 2005, almost every year has seen a record number of breaches and hacking events in everything from major retailers to mom-and-pop businesses.