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The Latest Hack Attack - Equifax Breach Exposes 143 Million Americans

Top things you Need to Know and Do
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By Hector Cisneros

For years we have been writing about the threat of hackers and their attacks on our institutions. Today the threat level has now evolved into an ongoing curse because the latest hack on Equifax will have long-lasting negative effects on millions of Americans for many years to come. In the past, we have written how our government has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to the threat of hack attacks. Now our personal and financial information is being exposed by hacks on companies like Equifax, who have been gathering our personal information for decades without our permission. This hack attack has compromised 143 million amercians and made us vulnerable to all kinds of fraud and financial devastation. In this episode of Working the Web to Win we will discuss the hard reality of this breach. We will discuss the outlook and its consequences and we will provide direction and solutions to help mitigate this horrendous long-term threat. So get ready to understand the the situation that 143 million of us are now in. So Take notes on what you have to do, because this problem is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.  

One of our very first articles we published on this blog in 2012, the “Cyber Security Shuffle,” was about the then growing threat that hackers pose to our society and our financial wellbeing. In that article, we discussed how governments have used hackers to try to counterattack hacking collectives, but the reality is that hackers are always one step ahead of the good guys and asking hackers to help is like asking the wolves to help guard the sheep. Here is a partial list of the many warning and security tip articles we have published in the past. It only contains about 1/3 of the articles we have written, but they will also contain links to the many other articles that we have published as well. 

Now let’s look at the Equifax breach. One of the reasons that is such a big problem for most of America is because this is one of the institutions we have allowed to keep our personal data as a tool to gauge creditworthiness. We have always expected them to keep this information secure. In fact, we have never given them the right to collect it in the first place. This breach has allowed cybercriminals access to your most personal data. Credit bureaus keep all of your personal and financial information in their databases. This includes your social security number, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, the account numbers and amounts associated with your loans and home mortgages, as well as other personal information to prove that you are you. This breach has allowed cybercriminals to gather everything they need to steal your identity in one fell swoop.

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There have been many recent large data breaches in banks, government agencies, large retailers and other corporations. However, most of these entities only store part of your total financial picture. Equifax and the other credit bureaus keep all of it in one place. Now over 143 million Americans have been put at risk because of Equifax’s incompetence and negligence. The fact is, they had the patch for the security hole two months prior and didn’t install it in time! To add insult to injury, they did not tell us that this happened in March of this year. They waited until till September to inform the public. This delay gave cybercriminals a head start to undermine the unsuspecting American public. Even worse, a few executives sold off Equifax shares after finding out that the breach had occurred. If you had been paying Equifax for their Credit Monitoring system, you got doubly burned.  And if that were not bad enough, Equifax at first insisted that we pay to lock down our account. Now they are offering free credit monitoring in exchange for giving up your right to sue them because of the breach. Here is a link to their “Cybersecurity Incident” page which lets you check to see if you were impacted and give you their take on the breach.

Here is a list of articles worth reading to help you get up to speed on the depth and breadth of the Equifax security data breach.
Are We Out of Luck? So, how are we as the victims of this tremendous cyber breach going to protect ourselves? What must we now do to keep the cyber wolves at bay? They have all of our data, right? They can just sit back and wait for the right moment to attack, and we will be out of luck! Or will we? Despite how desperate the current picture seems, there are still things we can do to protect ourselves. Make no mistake; we are all in real danger. The American public needs to move fast to plug as many holes in their security as they can. Let’s start with the big things first.

Top Survival Tip for this Security Breach
  1. Check your credit reports, credit card, and bank accounts statements closely. Look for anything out of the ordinary and report it immediately.
  2. Get ID protection insurance and monitoring - Get Life Lock, ID shield, or one of the other companies that will provide insurance and legal resources to deal with the hardships of ID theft.
  3. Lock all three of your credit bureau accounts. Freezing your accounts will stop most if not all new credit activation. You will have to pay for this. The process is a pain and different for each credit bureau. Here are the links and phone numbers. Equifax: 1-800-349-9960, Experian: 1‑888‑397‑3742, TransUnion: 1-888-909-8872.
  4. Set up all the fraud alerts on all your bank and credit card account to the highest
    Courtesy of Pixabay
    level. Have then sent you an email and text for any level of usage to help you monitor what's going on with your accounts.
  5. Review and update your security systems on your business and personal digital devices. This includes your computers, smartphones, tablets, and other smart devices in your business and home. Make sure you are running frequent scans and always turn auto-update on to take advantage of the latest security updates.
  6. Change the security level of your online programs. This includes your browser, online banking, social media sites and other high-use digital services so that they take advantage of two-step authentication. This will make it much harder for cybercriminals to take over or steal your digital identities.
  7. Check with your bank to find out your liability for all debit and credit cards. Choose credit with the lease liability. Note that even these cards require that you report breaches right away (usually within two days).
  8. Repeat this process for your entire family. Also, tell your friends and business associates to do the same. It's easy to forget that a cybercrime produces two victims with each fraudulent act. It blames the victim whose Identity has been stolen, and it deprives a business or individual of payment for a product or service they have provided.
  9. Be extra vigilant during the holidays and tax preparation time. This is the normal time when Cybercriminals come out to play the most, mainly because consumers are distracted during these times.
  10. Ask Congress to act and get off their duff. They need to create laws that protect US citizens from breaches outside of our control, and they need to take the cybersecurity threat seriously as they did with the war on drugs. They need to create a program to fight this war!
  11. Learn as much as you can. Read all the articles linked here. Do your due diligence, read all you can, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube and webinars from reliable sources and arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself and fight back.

You Need to Get Engaged!  When it comes to our government efforts to provide help for dealing with cybercrime, they have been sitting on their hands for too many years. Where are the laws that protect the American people from the incompetence of large private institutions who gather and hold our personal information (mostly without our permission)? Where are the big government programs like the war on drugs and cancer to help the American people fight this ongoing threat! Now 143 million of us will have to be looking over our shoulders for the next several decades to monitor these impending threats. I urge everyone who reads this article to call and write your congressmen and senators to create a government program that has funding to develop new security systems and methods to fight these threats. Congress needs to pass laws to force any institution that serves the general public (including utilities, banks, financial institutions, credit bureaus and other agency that require the public trust), to put the public first and make it so that there are repercussions if any of these agencies fail in their duties. Make sure you share the tips and article links on this blog with your friends, family, co-workers and anyone who has ever used Equifax. I hope, or any of your loved ones are not affected by this breach. Unfortunately, the likelihood of you being one of the 143 million people being affected is extremely high.
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That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article discusses how the recent Equifax Cyber Security Breach affects 143 million Americans and what they can do to protect themselves from any cyber-attacks and Identity thieves who target them. This article provides information on how to raise your security protection to the maximum level with a step-by-step plan, and it also provides other reference links.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 

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