We need to rethink how we store our personal data

The data breach at credit reporting agency Equifax, the gory details of which became clear last week, is the latest installment in a series of cybersecurity disasters in which consumers have been at the receiving end of the miseries. The breached data affected the information of 143 million people. That’s not a big number when compared to some of the bigger data breaches of the past year, such as Yahoo’s 1 billion user account record breaker.

However, what made the Equifax breach especially damaging was the sensitivity of the data that attackers laid their hands on. This included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, birthdates and addresses, and more. The only data breaches that compared in terms of severity were Anthem (approx. 80 million people affected) and the Office of Personnel Management (approx. 21 million people affected).

What makes matters worse is that Equifax professes to be a company that protects its customers from identity theft, the same kind of cyberattack that the stolen data will enable. The company is now scrambling to make amends with customers, and is getting ready to face several lawsuits. But that won’t bring back the data that has slipped through its fingers. Continue reading

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