What To Do When Your Personal Information Is Breached

penetration_test_436x270We recently learned that credit report service Experian had a breach of T-Mobile customer information.  This is just another addition to the pile of Personally Identifying Information (PII) that has been exfiltrated from sundry organizations including the Office of Personnel Management, various BlueCross BlueShield organizations, and Harvard University.

So what to do when this happens to you?  When you are notified by the offending organization, you will probably be offered credit monitoring at no cost to you.  This will run for a year, possibly two.  But cybersecurity expert and FBI consultant Frank Abagnale (subject of the movie Catch Me If You Can) recommends monitoring your credit for at least three years, because sometimes this stolen information is “aged” or held off the personal information market for a while to wait for the credit monitoring and other vigilance to expire.  You should insist on a longer term if you can negotiate it, and consider paying the cost yourself if you have to.

The website Privacy Rights has a great article on steps you can take to protect yourself when you data is lost.  They cover what to do in the event of the four main types of data exposure and these are:

  • Credit card information.
  • Financial account access.
  • Driver’s License or government ID theft
  • Social Security number theft.

There are specific guidelines for each type, and I recommend that you read their article if you need to.  They also recommend:

  • Notify the credit bureaus
  • Set up a fraud alert
  • Order your credit reports and look them over completely
  • Continue to monitor your credit report for changes
  • Order a credit freeze

You can contact the credit bureaus at the numbers and websites that follow:



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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Serving small business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area since 2001. Cybersecurity and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. I hold several cybersecurity certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Advanced Security Pratitioner (CASP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Other computer industry certifications include A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of security on their computers, networks, and websites. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. 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. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. I am a frequent speakers at cybersecurity conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference, the (ISC)2 World Congress, and the ISSA International Conference, and many local community organizations, Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2008.

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