Every week, Ken Whittaker, Director of Engineering, and Neal Cook, Director of Support at Front Rush, review recent tech news, offering analysis and banter about changes in tech.
Neal: Hey Ken! It feels like fall today, so I have a joke for you. What is the cutest season?
Ken: Hahaha. You know I love a corny joke. How have you been?
Neal: Stop, you’re making me hungry! Live is amazing, let’s get started!
So another company was hacked this week. Big surprise? This was a big one as Equifax, one of the three main credit reporting agencies, announced they were hacked back in late July. Up to 143 million customers (mostly Americans) were hacked. Which is a big number considering the population of the USA is 323.1 million-ish.
Names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver license numbers were accessed. About 209,000 people also had their credit card numbers leaked. It’s ironic we trust these companies with our trusted information, and they lose it. How do you feel about this?
Ken: Not good – but I guess it comes with the territory. As you mentioned, Equifax is one of three main credit reporting agencies. As prestigious as that is, there also comes a lot of responsibility. The big change here is the sensitivity of all the information that was leaked. One thing you’re typically taught when you’re very young is that your social security number is extremely sensitive and that you should be cautious with where or how you share it. The ironic part here is that – one of the companies responsible for that information was the target of this information. Cyber security is extremely important, and a hack of this scale just drives that point home even more.
Neal: Hacking has been so commonplace (Verizon, Gmail, Blue Cross, Chipotle, Brooks Brothers, Xbox all have reported hacks so-far in 2017), that I almost don’t fault Equifax. The hackers, in my mind, are just too good to be stopped…..but that doesn’t mean companies who store our data are off the hook.
To find out if you were affected you can head to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and Equifax will tell you if they think you were impacted. If you were, you’d be given a date where you can come back to the website to start your one year free of credit monitoring.
One year of credit monitoring? Heck, you lose my credit, you watch my digital self for life.
Ken: This is just the beginning. Although it took over a month to make the announcement, at least it was done in a way that so far seems organized. But, you bring up a good point. Even setting this discussion up, it’s no longer a question of “can a hack happen?” but rather “who got hacked?” – and it’s almost commonplace. While there is definitely a need to beef up cyber security efforts, there’s always something new – or a different vulnerability that is exploited. Something else I think about is – why are our passwords more secure than our social security numbers? Think about it, a small set of numbers is basically a huge piece of the puzzle protecting our identity. But, if I sign in to Gmail, I have a complex password that meets requirements, and two factor authentication. I’m not allowed in unless I verify myself at least two ways. Perhaps it’s time we start looking at Social Security Numbers as more than just a number. While yes, in theory it could still be hacked, it still makes me wonder.
Neal: 9 numeric digits is all a Social Security Number is. I was surprised when I learned that social security numbers weren’t given out until 1936 and they were only created for the sole purpose of tracking our wages and determining Social Security benefits.
It’s evolved into so much more now as it’s the primary identifier we use in our daily lives to confirm we are who we claim we are. Knowing that, the security of our Social Security should definitely be reexamined.
Ken: Well, if there’s any benefit to this – maybe this is the kind of event that will spark some type of advanced discussion. Hopefully, we can get something sorted out, but that comes with own set of challenges. That’s about all I have for this week. As always, it was good chatting with you!
Neal: We’ll change the world one day, that’s for sure, Ken.
Let’s leave with an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. Peace!