Yesterday it was reported that the financial records of numerous celebrities and government officials were hacked and posted on a mysterious new website. Credit reports, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers were just some of the details that were leaked. Stars like Mel Gibson, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher were all victims. Even more alarming, personal records of Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, along with the FBI Director Robert Mueller, were publicly displayed for everyone to see. This leads to an alarming question: if the First Lady and Vice President aren’t safe, how can you expect your personal information to stay private and out of the public eye?
The Latest Scheme – Doxxing
The most recent attack was a little bit different than the traditional identity theft and hacking schemes that most people hear about. Known as ‘doxxing‘ – the perpetrators used small bits of information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, to obtain personal information from third-party banks and financial institutions. Unlike hacking, where thieves directly access your personal information through a computer or electronic device, doxxing itself is not actually illegal. The goal of doxxing is to embarrass it’s victims – not to do damage. Although doxxing is not illegal, the big worry is that exposing people’s personal information will lead to serious issues such as identity theft.
Needless to say, both the FBI and the Secret Service said they were investigating the mysterious website. It doesn’t appear that there was anything illegal about the doxxing incident, but there’s bound to be some action when the security of government officials are put in jeopardy.
How to Protect Yourself
So what can you do to protect yourself? Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about doxxing itself. Because the stolen information doesn’t come from your computer or personal property, securing the information is out of your control. The most important action you can take is to regularly monitor your credit reports and other financial accounts to prevent fraudulent activity.
Regularly reviewing your monthly credit card statements, as well as checking your credit reports each year will provide a good start to securing your personal information. But identity thieves act quickly, and by the time you notice a change to one of your account statements or personal records, it may be too late to stop the crippling financial damage caused by a data breach.
Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection services, such as LifeLock, are an excellent safeguard against cyber-crimes like identity theft. Not only do they monitor and alert you to suspicious activity on your credit reports, but they protect you from a variety of breaches involving your personal data.
Plans are relatively affordable, starting around $10 per month. Although there are a wide range of options to choose from, select a service that monitors more than just your credit report. The credit monitoring services offered by the three major credit bureaus are often limited to covering just credit report activity. Services like LifeLock and Identity Guard provide a wider range of coverage and often provide financial guarantees if your personal information is ever compromised.
In an age where data is stored electronically and available for anyone to find, securing your personal information is more important than ever before. The latest doxxing incident is just one example of thousands of data breaches that occur everyday. Is your personal information being protected? It might be worth considering an extra safeguard to ensure you’re not the next victim.
* To learn more about identity theft protection CLICK HERE.