The largest security hack possibly in US history and definitely the largest against the government and it is reported as an afterthought. The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday that 5.6 million people are now estimated to have had their fingerprint information stolen.
Oh and about 21.5 million individuals had their Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information affected by the hack. Now take a step back and consider this headline. It used to be that 21 million people affected by a hack was a big deal. It used to be that 21.5 social security numbers stolen was a big deal. We are not talking credit and debit card information. We are talking about 21 million people have their social security numbers (the golden ticket of identity theft) stolen. Stop right there – that is big news. However, not even the headline. The headline is the unusual theft of fingerprints. What is valuable about finger prints? How is the business of identity theft advancing that the authorities are unaware of? Identity thieves felt it was valuable to go through the trouble to steal fingerprints. The 21 million social security numbers were a bonus?
The article goes onto to say that “federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited.” The office acknowledged, however, that future technologies could take advantage of this information. An interagency working group that includes the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the implications. Sounds to me it is a little too late. So what is the government doing to get ahead of this new security threat? This is the problem with identity theft. The hackers are always way ahead of the law making personal information a lucrative and easy target.
The disturbing aspect of this hack is that most of these hacks are originated in China and Russia. In fact, the US is accusing China of the hack. What would countries like Russia or China want with fingerprints? Your mind could go a million different ways.
This happened in April and reported in September. It always amazes me how companies and the government wait months before letting anyone know. If you are an identity thieve that is a nice head start. At least the Government is providing free credit monitoring for three years to 21 million people. They awarded the contract to a company at the beginning of the month. Can you imagine the cost of that service?
I think that this puts an exclamation point on personal protection. Credit monitoring at a minimum is a must have for everyone. When investigating credit monitoring, don’t buy into the myth that Lifelock is the answer. The overly aggressive marketing leaves one to believe they are going to protect every Jim Smith from everything. Plus, the Feds are on them once again for not having adequate security protecting customer information.