Please don’t think that you have control of your personal information and privacy. You don’t and you can’t.

Whether it’ cyber criminals, including international hackers; the insider threat posed by a fellow employee; or law enforcement with the best of intentions; personal privacy is not so private anymore.

First, it was recent news reports on how the Justice Department is collecting data from thousands of mobile phones through devices that mimic cellphone towers.

Then came last week’s report on Uber, the ridesharing business, which said it is investigating one of its executives for allegedly tracking the private travel records of a journalist without her permission. And just last month, Forbes reported that Uber employees used their internal company tool called “God View” to stalk VIP users.

And now there is news that malware called Regin is also spying on people.

So the question is. who is spying on you?

Hackers spy on you by using malware and spyware on your business and personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. To make matters worse, hacking is getting harder to defend against as technology continues to change.

Cyber- and identity-theft criminals are launching daily attacks against businesses and consumers by copying sophisticated malware and techniques used by governments and high-profile organizations. My question is, how long will it take for the bad guys to copy and mimic the fake communications-tower technology that our government is using? They may have done so already.

The insider threat, including current and former employees and vendors, are another threat to businesses and consumers. While hackers and their technology are the “sizzle” that makes the headline news, insider threats are low-profile and quiet as they steal our business and most personal information.

Insider threats are the back door that go unnoticed until it’s too late – whether it’s the employee accidentally releasing or outright stealing proprietary company information, or the family member or close friend stealing Social Security and credit-card numbers.

Recent examples of insiders in the news who have committed identity theft and fraud have included bankers, accountants, health-care providers, law-enforcement officers, landlords, university employees, mortgage brokers and IRS employees.

These types of insiders also create reputational risk, potentially leading to lost revenue and profits along with negative public relations for the organizations they work for.

Most of us know — or should know — that our personal information is either used or recorded every day by police (for surveillance), marketers and public-information officials. And every time our information is being used or recorded, we are at risk of becoming a victim of ID theft and fraud.

 

2013 was the second-biggest year ever for identity theft, with 13.1 million identity-theft victims, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. With four of the 10 largest data breach events in U.S. history occurring in the past 12 months, we might see a significantly higher number in 2014.

Mark’s most important: Accept that your information is under attack from many angles. Safeguard your business against the insider threat by conducting pre-employment background screening, regularly testing your business and information-security access controls and regularly reviewing your data-retention policy.

 

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at markpribish@merchantsinfo.com.

 

This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author’s permission.