The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently reported that “collecting and storing large amounts of data not only increases the risk of a data breach or other unauthorized access, but also increases the potential harm that could be caused.”
Seems like a no-brainer comment, right?
Yet the FTC’s statement is aimed at companies that do exactly that…
The new data mining industry is predicated on holding massive amounts of private data regarding individual consumers’ habits, ideas, purchases, and even movements – then selling the information to the highest bidder.
With cyber crime on the rise, anyone can see this is a recipe for disaster.
If you disagree, tell it to the millions of Home Depot (HD) customers who just fell victim to the latest data breach…
A Terrifying Trend
Like many Americans, I often shop at Home Depot for building supplies, home goods, and garden tools.
Yet now when I’m at the checkout counter of this big box retail giant, I’m going to be on high alert.
You see, a cyber attack last week likely compromised millions of credit card numbers.
So what does Home Depot have to say about the incident?
Well, a visit to the corporate website doesn’t give me much confidence…
According to management, “We’re looking into some unusual activity that might indicate a possible payment data breach, and we’re working with our banking partners and law enforcement to investigate. We know that this news may be concerning, and we apologize for the worry this can create. If we confirm a breach has occurred, we will make sure our customers are notified immediately.”
This highlights a major problem with data breaches.
Oftentimes, the corporation that was violated doesn’t really know what happened.
If your home is robbed, you can make a claim with your insurance company that details the value of any item stolen.
When it comes to data breaches, though, it’s not like top hackers from Russia and China leave much of a trail. The data is merely copied – leaving the original information looking virtually untouched.
Now, Home Depot is preparing to offer identity theft insurance to individual customers.
But as those who have experienced identity theft will testify, these insurance plans offer too little coverage, and they come into play too late to really be of any assistance.
So what can you do?
Your Best Measure of Protection
As the situation is being investigated, the lawyers at Home Depot tell us to watch our credit card statement closely.
Not the most helpful guidance, I know.
Don’t look to Washington for help, either.
Many of the best data management practices that could be adopted in the public sector are as shunned in the nation’s capital as they are by the private sector. The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, for instance, is dead in the water.
In the end, the best protection against these attacks is to use cash for purchases. It’s not ideal. But considering how quickly this problem is escalating, I don’t see another solution.
Consider that in the last 12 months, 70 million Target (TGT) customers, 33 million Adobe (ADBE) users, 4.6 million Snapchat users, and 148 million eBay (EBAY) customers have had private information divulged in database breaches.
No matter what you do, maintaining constant vigilance is key. You are your own best protector, after all.
Your eyes on the Hill,