In an all too familiar story, it has just been disclosed that personal information including names and Social Security numbers of 134, 386 present and former Navy employees was compromised in a hacking of a laptop of a Hewlett Packard employee. Hewlett Packard had this information through a contract on which it was working for the U.S. Navy. Further details of the hacking have not been released, but the fact that such a hacking occurred leads to concerns that the pattern established years ago in hacking of NASA laptops in which the laptops were not password protected and the data contained therein was unencrypted is repeating itself.
The continuing negligence of many companies and government agencies in not properly protecting sensitive personal data that can readily be used for purposes of identity theft is disappointing and startling. There are many simple security steps that are easily taken, such as password protecting laptops and other electronic devices as well as encrypting sensitive data and the use and updating of security software that should be done by all companies and government agencies without exception.
The lesson, however, is one that we should also practice in our own lives. We as individuals are regularly targeted by identity thieves so al of us should protect each of our electronic devices with a unique password, sensitive data should be encrypted and stored in the cloud or in a portable hard drive, dual factor authentication should be used whenever possible, install and update security software on all of your electronic devices and don’t click on links in emails or text messages unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate. These are just a few of the simple protocols we should all follow to decrease the chances of our becoming victims of identity theft.