FBI is currently investigating a Russian website (see below) containing names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and credit reports of the first lady, Michelle Obama, and other celebrities and politicians.
The list includes: Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden, Robert Mueller (FBI Director), Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder (U.S. Attorney General), Charlie Beck (LAPD Chief), Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Jay Z, Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Sarah Palin, Hulk Hogan, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore, Kanye West, Kris Jenner, Stacia Hylton (U.S. Marshals Service Director), Mitt Romney, Tiger Woods.
Huffingtonpost reports more details about how the hackers accessed the information:
UPDATE 4:19 p.m. — Equifax, one of the three credit reporting agencies, said Tuesday that hackers who allegedly posted sensitive data belonging to 17 celebrities and political figures obtained some of that information from a website that allows consumers to access their credit reports.
The hackers entered enough personal identifying information, or PII, on four of the alleged hacking victims to log-in as them on the site annualcreditreport.com and obtain their credit reports, which contain sensitive financial data and Social Security numbers, according to Timothy Klein, a spokesman for Equifax.
It’s interesting that thousands of people have their information stolen every year without much attention from the media and the government. The credit monitoring business seems to be the latest scam to make the people feel better about protecting their information. Let’s be honest: no level of security can protect your personal or financial information. There is always a human factor and every information has its price.
Besides the lack of the true security protecting our data, reliance on the social security number to tie in all the information is the one of the worst ideas ever. First of all, SSN wasn’t designed to be a secure identifier for all Americans, it was intended for the social security checks when people retired. Then, IRS jumped on the wagon, state agencies, credit card companies, background checks, insurance companies, and rest of the commercial world looking for an easy way to identify customers.
Second of all, how can we protect the personal information in the digital age? We just can’t. Hacking, phishing, social networks – it’s all design to expose as much data as possible. Can biometrics help in protecting our information? Perhaps, using such technology will help but again, there is a human factor. What prevents some crook from establishing a fake credit check agency and have access to all the information anyway? Remember Global Payments and the hacking scandal that exposed 1.5 million credit and debit card numbers? I will not even mention hundreds of other incidents.
Bottom line: if it’s so easy to hack the First Lady and the Vice President, where do we go from here? Putting pressure on the government and the companies to design a better security scheme would be a way to go. For now, you can freeze your credit with all three major credit companies for a small fee to protect the release of your data. Switching to one credit card and cash is another idea. Keeping your passwords stronger is a must. Above all, stay smart with whom you trust when providing your personal data.
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