British communications company TalkTalk, which provides services including broadband, phone and cable, has just announced that it was hacked and personal information of as many as four million customers may have been stolen. The compromised information included names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers and bank account details. Already some TalkTalk customers are reporting funds being stolen from their bank accounts, however, it is still too early to know if these thefts were related to the data breach. According to the old adage, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, sham on me.” Under this standard TalkTalk’s actions are particularly shameful as this is the third time it has suffered a data breach in the last year alone. Investigations have been started into the cybersecurity or lack thereof being employed by TalkTalk. What also makes this story noteworthy is that TalkTalk has received a ransom note demanding a payment or else their customers’ personal information will be made public. One of my predictions for the new year is that we will see much more corporate extortion by which hackers will threaten to either destroy hacked information or make public information stolen from companies.
Companies have got to do a better job of cybersecurity. Too many companies just do not take sufficient steps to keep the information they store secure. The federal government has started to take action against companies failing to protect data, but these actions have should be increased. As for we consumers, we are left at the mercy of the companies and governmental agencies with which we do business. If they have weak security, we have weak security. Therefore, as much as you can, limit the personal information that you provide to companies and governmental agencies with which you do business.