There’s a good chance your personal information is now in the hands of identity thieves, thanks to the credit reporting company Equifax. On September 7th, 2017, Equifax announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017.
According to Equifax, the information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed. As part of its investigation of this application vulnerability, Equifax also identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents. Equifax will work with UK and Canadian regulators to determine appropriate next steps. The company has found no evidence that personal information of consumers in any other country has been impacted.
The question now is, what can you do to protect yourself?
Experts insist, you’ve got to protect yourself/your data now. These are a few suggestions for you to consider:
- Start with putting a freeze on your credit. Equifax is now saying they will waive the minimal fees to freeze your credit, but that comes on the heels of their highly-criticized offer to enroll you in their credit monitoring program. Monitoring your credit score and checking your credit report on a regular basis or at least annually to make sure no new accounts have been opened by fraudsters.
- Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). Proactively protecting your online accounts using 2FA adds an extra layer of security protection beyond your password. It significantly decreases the risk of a hacker accessing your online accounts by combining your password (something you know) with a second factor, like your mobile phone (something you have), where you can receive a one-time passcode (OTP) to verify your identity. Many of the world’s largest websites have made 2FA readily available from the security settings of your online accounts, but it’s up to you to turn on this free feature. TeleSign can help both consumers and businesses set this security functionality up – to learn more, consumers should visit https://www.turnon2fa.com/ and businesses should check out https://www.telesign.com/use-cases/add-two-factor-authentication/
- Change your passwords every 90 days. Your computers and your online accounts carry a lot of sensitive and important data, so keeping this data safe is a major priority. One security tip for computer users is to constantly change your passwords to something new to make it somewhat harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts.
- Don’t use the same password for every account. It can be tempting to use the same password on every account you have, whether for computers and network equipment or online accounts, as it’s much easier to remember a single one. However, it also means that if a hacker figures out your password, they can gain access to every account you have. Changing your passwords to something different and unique to each account will make it so that even if someone does guess one password, they cannot use it for anything else.
- Use a password manager tool. A password manager tools assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords, potentially storing such passwords in an encrypted database or calculating them on demand.
Check out TeleSign’s Chief Product Officer, Tom Powledge discuss the Equifax data breach and steps you should take to protect yourself with the Fox 11 News Team in Los Angeles, CA: