No. But you shouldn’t have needed the latest scary evidence to be worried about your online security.
The web, as Roger Rawlinson, a group managing director at NCC Group, which owns the security consulting firm iSEC, points out, was not built to secure information, it was built to share it. We’re now trying to bolt on security after the fact, and hackers are outpacing those efforts.
I have a personal perspective on this, since I was the victim of identity theft late last year. Someone opened several credit cards in my name at Best Buy, Fry’s, Kohl’s and Macy’s.
I originally assumed it was the result of the data theft at Target, which compromised about 70 million customer records.
But a few weeks after I contacted the fraud departments of all four stores and filed a police report, I got a call from the small bank that issues cards for Fry’s, First Electronic Bank in Utah.
The security officer there told me there had been an arrest in my case, and that the identity theft ring that was using my personal information knew almost everything about me. So much, in fact, that it was able to answer so-called “challenge questions” about my credit history in order to open cards in my name.
And once the identity theft nightmare starts, it is very hard to stop.
Even after I reported the fraud to Macy’s and sent them a copy of the police report I filed, they continued to bill me for months and even reported me to collections. At that point, a very angry phone call put an end to the problem.
But I still get promotional email from all four companies because I am, after all, now in their databases. Could I have stopped the identity theft with better password security? Possibly. They found their way in somehow.
It bears repeating: Be smarter about passwords. Make sure they’re not easily guessed, and don’t reuse passwords across any sites that contain important information. That way, if one is compromised (and it almost certainly will be at some point), it can’t take down...