More than ten years ago, when I began speaking to organizations about personal security and identity theft, headlines often read “Utility Worker Steals Identities” or “Human Resource Officers Steal Identities” and even “Police Officer Steals Identities.” Back then the primary concern was insider identity theft, perpetrated by those who had direct access to victims’ data.
Ecommerce grew up, and more people started banking and shopping online. Black Friday turned into Cyber Monday, and companies like eBay and Amazon have made it easier than ever to find and inexpensively ship anything you might need. This has created many new opportunities for criminal hackers, and the result has been lots and lots of data breaches.
Headlines have shifted to “Bank Loses 1.2 Million Records to Hackers” or “Hackers Steal Over 100 Million Credit Card Numbers.” The stereotypical bad guy has become a mysterious criminal hacker, slipping into our PCs or our banks in the dead of night.
But just last month, a nurse was accused of stealing Social Security numbers and other sensitive information from patient files at several hospitals in Denver, Colorado. Prosecutors say the defendant opened credit cards in patients’ names and made purchases.
My point is that even today, the Human Resources director at some company may have a new boyfriend who happens to have a drug problem, and who needs her to steal your identity so that he can get a fix. The fundamental issue of identity theft hasn’t changed, and the people doing it are the same. Frequently, they are those on the inside, with direct access to your data.
It is important to observe basic security precautions to protect your identity. But when you provide information to businesses, its safety is beyond your control.
Consumers should consider an identity theft protection product that offers daily credit monitoring, proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your accounts. McAfee Identity Protection includes all these features as well as live help from fraud resolution agents if your identity is ever compromised. For more tips on protecting yourself, please visit CounterIdentityTheft.com.