With a seeming limitless number of ID-theft and cyber-attack headlines, I get concerned that small business owners (and consumers) will shut down and simply ignore the ID theft threat altogether. My research in just the past 10 days shows a myriad of news headlines and articles where both businesses and consumers continue to be overwhelmed with the challenges of identity theft and data breach events.

To provide some clarity in the ID theft chaos and to help your business (and consumers) better protect themselves, here are four key points from recent news stories below:

— Cyber-attacks launched via social media (Business Insurance Magazine, March 9). While businesses use social media as a branding and marketing tool and consumers use social media to expand their social and professional relationships, hackers are using social media to initiate attacks by exploiting weaknesses in computer systems and networks.

MORE: Pribish: Identity-theft risks come as businesses use social media for marketing

RELATED: Protect yourself from income tax identity theft

One fact I always try to share when I am an invited to speak is that Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter all have experienced at least one data-breach event.

— Fast-changing security threats overwhelming IT managers (Business Insurance Magazine, March 11). "Security professionals are unable to keep pace with cyber security threats against companies as external and internal threats mushroom from both known and emerging technologies."

The Business Insurance article reports that "the study of just over 1,000 security professionals in the United States, Britain and Canada paints a picture of mounting pressures on organizations due to a shortage of necessary specialist skills, tight budgets and poor employee education. Emerging threats have changed dramatically from a year ago, as concern over managing security for social media and big data projects have declined sharply only to be replaced by new risks."

— Report: 71 percent of organizations were successfully attacked in 2014 (SC Magazine, March 12). "71 percent of respondents said that their organization's global network was compromised by a successful cyber attack in 2014 – a number that jumped up from 62 percent in the year prior – and 22 percent said that their organization experienced six or more successful attacks," according to the "2015 Cyberthreat Defense Report" from CyberEdge Group.

-- Flawed Social Security data say 6.5 million Americans are older than 112 years (The Associated Press, March 16). "Social Security officials do not have death records for millions of people — and the flawed data says at least 6.5 million Americans are at least 112 years old."

"The agency said it is working to improve the accuracy of its death records. But it would be costly and time-consuming to update 6.5 million files that were generated decades ago, when the agency used paper records."

Based on the above "nearly 67,000 of the Social Security numbers were used to report more than $3 billion in wages, tips and self-employment income from 2006 to 2011 and one Social Security number was used 613 different times. An additional 194 numbers were used at least 50 times each."

To conclude, McAfee, one of the leading global security companies, reported the estimated cost of malicious cyberactivity in 2013 in the range of $300 billion to $1 trillion.

 

Mark's Most Important: Ignorance is not bliss if you ignore ID theft and data breach news stories and don't protect you and your business.

 

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., an ID theft-background screening company based in Phoenix. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article was originally published on AZCentral.com and re-posted with the author's permission.

 

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