In Albert’s Corner this month, thoughts on the Equifax hacking scandal.
So let’s review the recent Equifax hacking story: a company gathers your personal information and mine without our permission, sells it to willing parties, uses it as leverage to determine how much we’ll pay any time we make a major purchase and then allows it to be exposed to criminals. Does that about sum it up?
By now, you’ve surely heard that Equifax, one of the “big three” companies in credit reporting, suffered a hacking incident that exposed the personal financial information of 143 million Americans. Apparently the folks at Equifax were sick the day the Experian hacking incident took place a few years ago and learned nothing from it.
So what do you do about it? You go to the special Equifax website, where the first thing they want is the last six digits of your Social Security number. Feeling more comfortable yet? Having done that, you’ll get their best guess as to whether your own data is among that which was compromised. Either way, they’ll charitably offer their credit monitoring service to you for free … for a year. No word yet on what happens if a hacker makes a purchase in your name 366 days from now.
Want to freeze your credit so no one can make a major purchase in your name? It’ll cost you, or it would have until there was such an outcry about that decision that Equifax backtracked. Talk about tone deaf.
We all know that when we volunteer our information online there’s always a chance, however small, that it will wind up in the wrong hands. But the key word there is “volunteer.” Equifax and the others gather our data without our consent … and then want to charge us to clean up their own mess while we forever wonder when a hacker will impersonate us. The term “impotent rage” springs to mind.
Are there alternatives? Not if you want to buy a car, hold a job or own a cell phone. The only people not in credit reporting databases are those living Unabomber-style in the woods, and that doesn’t work so well for folks like me in the IT field.
The home page of the site set up by Equifax to deal with this disaster reports that their Chief Information Officer and Chief Security Officer have “retired.” Somehow, I don’t think that will make me feel a lot better when someone pretending to be Albert Blaize goes on their next shopping spree.
Albert Blaize is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TRG Networking. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.