Hackers Steal Federal Employees’ Sensitive Information

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In the second major hack into the federal government’s network announced this year, hackers were able to sneak into government computers and steal sensitive information on 21 million people. We’re not just talking about a name, social security number and date of birth (although that’s bad enough). The breach resulted in the theft of criminal, health, financial and employment records. Of the 21 million people affected, two million of them weren’t even government employees, but spouses or housemates, even friends of government employees.

Now, how could this be happening? It stands to reason that the more money and resources you throw at a problem such as information security, the better the quality of that security. The federal government has virtually unlimited capital, and still can’t effectively prevent data breaches. Then how will the average organization be able to fend off attacks with their limited funds? The obvious answer is that they are clearly open to attack. Even Fortune 100 companies like Target, Citibank, Home Depot and countless others fall victim to hack attacks. There seems to be no true information security any more.

So what is the solution? Is there one? The most draconian solution would be to eliminate record-keeping on electronic media, in particular on federal computers, but that’s not economically feasible. The problem is that we’re only human. There are those of us who are hell-bent on obtaining what isn’t theirs to obtain, and those of us who make mistakes or unwittingly fall prey to social espionage.

The consumer is stuck in a position of vulnerability. Outside of living only on cash (no credit), your only band-aid is the get credit protection like Lifelock. In the case that information is stolen, the consumer can at least take refuge in the fact that he won’t be held responsible for the ensuing carnage to his credit.

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