What You Can Do After The Equifax Breach

Wanted for insider trading and consumer fraud, and impersonating someone who gives a damn about information security.

The Equifax breach has been all over the news this weekend, and it should be.  This is worse than they are telling us.  It most certainly DOES affect you, if you are adult and have ever purchased a car or opened a credit card account.  Don’t wait to be told you are a victim.  Assume you are a victim.

In a world where we are all suffering from “breach fatigue,” having suffered through dozens if not hundreds of these revelations about lack of due care and the unwillingness to treat our personal information security as a true business priority, it is hard to get worked up about this again.  But I am.  Because this is BAD.

I can’t wait to hear about how the information security team at Equifax was shot down when they asked for funding to improve security at Equifax.  This is always the way.  The info sec guys at Equifax undoubtedly knew there was a problem, but were told the solution was too expensive by senior management.  The same senior managers that sold all their stock before revealing this breach to the public.  See you in prison, guys.

The problem with using the Social Security Number as a national identity system.

But what to do?

  • Contact all three credit bureaus and request a “credit freeze.”  This will prevent anyone, including yourself, from opening new lines of credit without the credit bureau contacting you first for verification.  If you don’t do anything else, do this!  Annoying?  Maybe, but this is your best option.  They are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and the business-focused bureau Innovis
  • If you aren’t monitoring your credit bureau statements, now is a good time to start.  You are entitled to do this once a year for free.  Pick one credit bureau and request one a month for the next three months.  Look for any new applications for credit cards or credit accounts.
  • Take a look at your bank account and credit card statements for unexpected transfers of funds or purchases.
  • Take the free credit monitoring when it is offered.  This is not as effective as a freeze, but take it anyway.  Equifax has already tried to tie accepting this service as a way to keep you out of any class action law suites, but this trick will not hold up in a court.
  • If you are contacted by an attorney to become part of a class action suit, do so.  The only way these knuckleheads learn is if it costs them money.
  • Be aware that a long list of phishers and scammers are going to flood you email box with fake offers for credit monitoring or other assistance. They maybe be pretending to be Equifax or other credit services.   DO NOT click through on any links in these emails, or open any file attachments without testing the first with VirusTotal.  Read my previous posts on how to detect and protect yourself from phishing emails.
  • You can also check out a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, that Equifax said would help U.S. consumers find out if their information was exposed, and allow them to sign up for a year of free credit-file monitoring and identify-theft protection.  Can we trust them?  But really, they want the last SIX digits of your SSN.  How secure is this site?  And it’s set up in a nearly identical manner to a typical phishing site, with a screwy domain name, on a consumer web hosting account.  Not recommending you do this.  Use at your own risk.

If you can stand it – more information:

 

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity guru to business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area. Computer security and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. In 2013 I completed a course of study and certification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). In 2016 I was certified as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of computer security, network security, and web site security. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. The views expressed on this Web site are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

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