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article imageIt's simple: Your credit information is not safe, period

By Karen Graham     Jul 25, 2014 in Business
Target's loss of data on 110 million customers in 2013 was considered the biggest retail hack in U.S. history. The installed malware was able to pull credit card information from all 1,797 stores. Target then sent the data to Experian for protection.
Target recommended that the 110 million customers use the credit bureau Experian for "identity theft protection," and Target would pay for the first year of service. This, at the time seemed to be a responsible solution, not only for Target, in protecting their customers, but for the customers themselves.
But the rosy-bloom of contentment was shattered when Experian was hacked, and not by an unknown adversary, but by one of their own subsidiaries. The data leak was caught and plugged before Target sent their customer information to Experian, but the experience shows that our personal information is not safe, anywhere.
Experian unknowingly sold the personal data of millions of Americans to a fraud-artist in Vietnam. He in turn sold the information to thieves around the world. The information included Social Security numbers. U.S. Secret Service agents alerted Experian officials of the data breach, and the transfer of data was halted.
The culprit, Hieu Minh Ngo, now 25, was caught and admitted to posing as a private investigator in Singapore in order to get access to data from Court Ventures, an Experian subsidiary. Ngo then sold the information to criminals.
Federal investigators say that the breach affected 200 million people, allowing criminal organizations to access personal information that included:
1. Names
2. Addresses
3. Social Security numbers
4. Birthdays
5. Work History
6. Drivers License numbers
7. Email addresses
8. Banking information
While criminals were able to access this information over 3.1 million times, the American public didn't hear anything about it. The answer is quite simple, Experian is staying quiet about the whole issue. It has now been more than a year since Experian was notified of the breach, but the company refuses to comment on any part of the data leak. CNNMoney asked Experian to detail the scope of the breach. The company refused. “As we’ve said consistently, it is an unfortunate and isolated issue,” Experian spokesman Gerry Tschopp said.
Barry Kouns is a security professional who keeps track of and maintains a database of major data breaches. Kouns says Target's victims are still at risk, but in a different way. Kouns' company keeps a Cyber Risk Analytics database, and Experian's databases have been breached 97 times with personal information being taken. “Based on our research, it appears that data brokers place a high value on collecting and using our information but not so much on protecting it,” Kouns said.
More about Target, identity theft protection, Criminals, experian, social security numbers
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