(photo credit: REUTERS)
Are your data safe anywhere? Data are stolen, lost or damaged all the time.
My daughter’s bank account was emptied in a matter of minutes after hackers stole information from 40 million Target Corporation customers. It took three months for the bank to replace her money and many calls to the bank and Target. My wife’s American Express card number was “lifted” we think by a store employee in Israel, and odd charges began to appear on the statement.
Notorious bank robber Willie Sutton when asked why he robs banks, supposedly responded: “Because that’s where the money is.” Today, the money is in data on computers and credit cards, and that’s what they steal.
Each magnetic strip on the reverse side of a card is a file cabinet full of personal information data. The Watergate break-in brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon, and those thieves were after papers stored in file cabinets. Technological progress is now measured by the speed with which a cyber attack can access or damage data, how quickly it can be downloaded and sold and for how high a price.
It poses the greatest threat to business and commerce on an international scale.
President Obama’s emails were hacked.
Pentagon computers were breached. In the summer of 2014, hackers stole personal account information of 76 million clients of America’s biggest bank, J.P. Morgan. Data on 56 million Home Depot customers were stolen.
Thousands of government and corporate data-storage centers around the world have been compromised.
Health-care data are highly prized, as evidenced by the second-biggest cyber attack reported to the US government health agencies after 4 million files were stolen from the Advocate Medical Group. Earlier this year, Anthem suffered a huge breach of its health-insurance data.
There are suspicions that employees sell access codes in collusion with criminal gangs in more than a third of these cases.
Hackers go after small numbers too. Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center discovered that a nurse stole 900 personal information files of patients, forcing hospital personnel to issue credit-monitoring warnings and pay for one year of credit-protection service.
GreenPoint Global, an international outsourcing company with seasoned experts in data protection says keeping data safe and accessible is a specialty. Businesses rely on professionals just like bank security guards to manage the daunting and expensive tasks for data protection to prevent theft and loss.
The fallout from breaches of data safety at Target resulted in the forced resignations of the CEO and CIO.
Small and large enterprises alike suffer malware attacks that delete and corrupt data. Project information, legal and other correspondence and financial records from daily point-of-sale transactions for investments go missing. Small companies will find outsourcing proactive protective measures against viruses and malware infections an efficient and effective use of resources.
The government of Hong Kong (GHK) warns businesses on its InfoSec site about the importance of protecting information from mobile devices. Thieves target USB thumb drives, 3G cellphone networks, wireless LANs, removable hard disks, notebooks and portable digital devices and printer output.
GHK recommends that every company build and access control policy, encrypt data, protect wireless and secure company networks and regularly conduct security- risk assessments and audits.
The hottest trend in business is start-up companies from kitchen-table inventors to hi-tech entrepreneurs in glitzy office buildings. Yet many lack basic business knowledge and often suffer lost, stolen and wasted money. The same is true for individuals who are spinning several plates without managing several credit/ debit cards, checking accounts, savings and some small investments. It doesn’t take long for it all to disappear when there is a data breach. Here are the top means fraudsters use to steal from you: Stolen checks, kiting, forgery and alterations, accounting fraud, uninsured deposits, loan fraud, forged documents, wire-transfer fraud, impersonation, phishing with forged emails, money laundering and stolen credit cards to purchase goods.
If you are the target of one of these schemes, immediately go to your bank and explain to an officer what happened.
They are prepared to help in these matters because the banks are often on the hook to cover all or some part of the theft and deception. One con artist observed that “technology breeds crime,” and they are “always willing to take advantage of an opportunity.”
Dr. Harold Goldmeier is the managing partner of Goldmeier Investments LLC.
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