Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me. For years companies and governmental agencies have been having lapstops fillled with sensitive personal data stolen or lost thereby placing employees and people involved with the companies or agencies at serious risk of identity theft. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem. All the companies and agencies have to do is encrypt their data. Unfortunately, a tremendous number of companies and governmental agencies fail to do so. The latest instance of this just occurred when NASA announced yesterday that a laptop computer containing personal data of NASA employees and contractors dealing with NASA was stolen from a NASA employee’s parked car. The computer was protected by a password, but it would probably be a good guess that the password was something that an experienced hacker would be able to break and once that occurred, the treasure trove of personal data would be in the hands of the identity thief.
This is another example of the fact that even if you do everything right to protect the security of your personal data, you are only as safe as the weakest place that stores your personal data and since we all have our personal data spread out among so many places, the danger of identity theft is high. This danger is increased when companies and agencies such as NASA do not take the basic step of encrypting the data they hold. This should be a no brainer and that may be exactly what it is, people with no brains are failing to protect data on computers through encryption. After the fact, NASA is now requiring that all of their computers encrypt their data by December 12th, but this is little solace to those who are in danger of identity theft due to NASA’s failure to encrypt data until now. The lesson for us all is to restrict the amount of personal data that is held by companies and agencies unless they truly need it. Don’t store your credit card number with a company you regularly do business with online because if they are hacked, your credit card information will be taken. Input it anew each time. And don’t give your personal information to anyone who doesn’t need it even if they ask for it. My eye doctor asked for my Social Security number even though he did not need it. I did not supply it and he was fine with that. Finally, ask any company or agency that holds your data whether they encrypt their data.