While many of us may be experiencing breach fatigue due to the onslaught of compromises reported in the news, the latest hack should command our full attention, reminding us that all breaches are not created equal. Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies revealed a colossal cyber breach yesterday, one that may affect almost 150 million user records, or almost half of the population of the United States. Other than the sheer magnitude of this hack, what makes this particular incident even more frightening is that the data that was breached may include social security numbers, one of the crown jewels of personally identifiable data, jewels that unlike credit cards, cannot be replaced.
What Can You Do?
Determine whether you are part of the breach, head to the Equifax website for instructions or call 866-447-7559 for information (note: your web filter may block the website and call volume for the call center may prevent you from immediately getting through).
Be sure to continuously check your financial accounts to identify any suspicious activity. And since cybercriminals are patient, be vigilant for as long as you can, as they may not attempt to use your data for several months.
As a more extreme method of protection, consider a credit freeze so that cybercriminals who may have obtained your information cannot retrieve and use your credit report for using your identity to create new accounts. The three agencies that handle this are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
Be cautious of spear phishing attacks, where cybercriminals send you an email posing as a trusted representative from a financial institution, asking you to provide them with sensitive information related to protecting you from the Equifax breach.
According to various media outlets, such as CNN and CNBC, there is some concern as to whether Equifax may require that you give up your right to sue them in a class-action lawsuit if you sign up for credit monitoring