September 9, 2017
On a scale of 1-10 for data breaches, this one is a 10:
Equifax announced on Thursday that as many as 143 million people may have had their personal information exposed.You are quite likely among them.
You are quite likely among them.
Sad to say, this breach happened about two months ago. Equifax discovered the breach in late July but has only now decided to tell the rest of the world. It is unclear why they delayed.
Equifax has set up a website which gives their side of the story: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ Part of this is an invitation inviting you to “check potential impact.” They’ve set up a page where you enter your last name and part of your SSN. From that, Equifax will tell you if your information might have been part of the breach and then offer to enroll you in a free credit monitoring service.
But wait—why would anyone ask Equifax to monitor personal information right after Equifax neglected to prevent such a catastrophic data breach? It’s clear why Equifax would like you to do this: doing so requires you to agree not to be in any class-action lawsuits against them.
So, what is to be done?
- We strongly recommend that you have your personal information monitored. No company can “bat 1000” in this, but there are a number who do a very good job. Here is a link to get you started: http://www.reviews.com/identity-theft-protection-services/ We cannot make a categorical recommendation, but that link lists Identity Force, Life Lock, ID Watchdog, and Credit Sesame as good options to consider. Choose the solution that is best for your preferences.
- Tell your employees to avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails. Especially be wary of emails that claim to be updates from Equifax —it is very likely that hackers will take advantage of the publicity of this breach to send phishing emails pretending to help users respond to the Equifax Breach. Ignore any such emails!
- Get serious about cyber security!
- Many small business owners think these types of disasters only happen to big names such as Equifax but that is false by a mile. We respond to hacks of small businesses right here in the Tri-Cities on a regular basis. The reason you don’t hear about them is because business owners who ARE affected work hard to keep it mum as much as possible (and as much as compliance regulations allow). Doing otherwise risks tarnishing their reputation and thus their profits.
- The need for cybersecurity is real. Set up a meeting with your IT provider to talk about your risks and be sure you are comfortable with the protection they are providing.
Holston IT is here to help! We are zealous about protecting data, and passionate about providing great service. We make sure your computers just work so that you can focus on running your business. This month we are giving away a free security assessment to 2 businesses. This is a no-risk opportunity for you to get another opinion on your network, to be sure that there are no “criminals welcome here” hanging, unbeknownst to you, out in cyber space. To claim yours, email “sign me up!” to firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP.
Dedicated to your data security,
On behalf of the Holston IT team
- NBC: Breach could affect half of US Population
- LA Times: This Breach is Worse than you can imagine
- CNBC: You probably don’t want Equifax Credit Monitoring Services
- CNN: The big picture of this breach
- FIC: Summary of Recent Data Breaches
- Small Biz Trends: Small Businesses at Great Risk for Cyber-Crime
- Business News Daily: Why Hackers Target Small Businesses
- Holston IT: Ensure your Data is Backed Up & Recoverable