As businesses have settled into the digital world and come to depend on online connectivity as the norm, cyber criminals are also upping their game.
With more to get out of any successful security breach, hackers from around the globe have been working diligently to crack protective protocols and bypass safety software in their quest for user data.
Anything can be a weapon in the hands of a cybercriminal. While they normally go for things like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and passwords, even personal addresses can be used to rip off individuals when scammers get ahold of the information.
This is why so many businesses have been increasing their cyber security standards to combat the growing problem. As the two sides struggle to outdo each other, businesses have an added layer of risk in the matter. While cyber criminals do risk persecution in their quest to commit data theft and fraud, business owners can also be held liable if customer data is stolen under their watch.
Despite the best efforts of companies and their never-ending quest for better cyber security procedures, breaches continue to happen. One recent incident may put millions of customers at risk – as many as 143 million according to some estimates.
Equifax recently announced the massive issue which was said to have occurred through mid-May to July of this year. It is believed that cyber criminals exploited a website application’s vulnerability to access social security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and even birth dates. The hackers also ended up with the credit card information of 209,000 consumers in the U.S. as a result of the breach.
Equifax is a hacker’s dream – the credit bureau offers customers the chance to check their credit report and score. Many scam companies work from these systems as well. They’ll offer similar checks, and end up sticking customers with “benefits” they never requested for a low monthly fee. They’ll try to sell the customers on the value of the perks, but the entire set up is usually viewed as less-than ethical.
This takes things to a whole new level, as the direct breach of Equifax records represents a calculated effort to steal confidential information. Despite being a large and successful company, even Equifax didn’t have the cyber security necessary to hold off data thieves in this instance.
What does this mean for customers? It’s likely going to cause a huge headache, but things could be worse for the company. Even if they don’t face legal backlash, the confidence of consumers is something every company needs. After such a colossal violation of customer privacy, individuals may think twice before entering their personal data in Equifax’s system from now on.
Shares have already plunged as a result of the incident. Equifax is offering credit monitoring and fraud protection, and those who believe their credit has been affected may choose to freeze it as a precautionary measure. The incident is one of the most widespread and potentially disastrous cyber security incidents in history.