Hot Data – Has Your Data Been Compromised?
Mankind’s search for a meaningful identity in an often confusing world is as old as our species itself. But on the Internet, matters of identity are less about discovering who you might be than they are about protecting who you already are. Identity theft cost consumers over $18 billion in 2012 alone, and with identity theft claiming a new victim every three seconds, data security has become both a major concern for consumers and a very profitable business for the credit industry.
Of course, it’s not just identities that are being nicked or bank accounts that are compromised. Major corporations—including Gawker Media, Verisign, Twitter, and more—have all experienced major security leaks. While many of these leaks (some due to malicious attacks, some due to exploitation of existing weaknesses, and some due to human error) did not result in a loss of consumer information, in some cases usernames, email addresses, and sensitive financial or account details were exposed.
In addition to security vulnerabilities or malicious attacks from domestic hackers, international attacks are also a concern for private citizens, corporate behemoths, and government institutions. Operating with both anonymity and impunity in the often murky jurisdiction of the Internet, hackers can steal identities, commit insurance or other fraud, or even hack into financial institutions to empty bank accounts and other holdings. In 2012, U.S. companies reported estimated losses of more than $300 billion from cybertheft and other infiltration efforts originating from China alone. Threats to financial and personal information aside, these attacks have also strained international relations between the U.S. and China, leading to concerns about full-out “cyber warfare” within the coming decades.
Regardless of their source, threats to information security—for individuals, for businesses, and for governments—will likely remain an unfortunate fact of life in the digital age. As technology advances, so too will the methods used to compromise databases and pilfer identities, and the business of minimizing (or even eliminating) “hot data” is sure to remain a booming one.
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