Tag Archives: data breaches

Experian Scans the Dark Web for Your Information

ExperianIn case you haven’t heard there is such a thing as the dark web, This is the side of the Internet that is not where you want to go. Here is where the child molesters, pedophiles, drug dealers, terrorist, human traffickers and other nasty people go to do business. The dark web is where you buy stolen information among other things. The dark web is aptly named, it is dark, hidden, dangerous and mostly illegal.

The AACR did a report on the dark web and we found that much of the Internet is indeed dark. According to DeepWeb.com only about 4 percent of the information on the web is available to search engines like Google or Yahoo! This is known as the “Visible Web” or “Surface Web.” So if you did the math you can see that 96 percent of information online is hidden from sight.

But now the question must be asked; how much of that information is yours? Your home address, phone number, email address, your social security number, your medical records, you passport number, and who knows what else. Most information you read about as being hacked or stolen ends up on the dark web.

There are ways and methods to scan the dark web for your information. Some legitimate companies and websites are eager to help you find and secure your information. Experian for example is offering to scan the dark web for your email address. The credit reporting company offers this website that will scan the dark web for your email address. The scan takes just a few seconds and the results are emailed to the email address you entered and it is completely free. At least the the email scan is. Experian will scan for your medical records, Social Security number, bank accounts, phone numbers, credit and debit cards, driver’s license and passport for a fee of $9.99 a month. You can try it for 30 days free. Its not a bad deal, and let’s be real, with all the data breaches happening you need to know. 

Now you know.




African-Americans and Data Breaches

national cyberWhy should black people worry about data breaches? Because the loss of data to cyber criminals is an exploding problem and awareness is the only way to protect yourself.

Data is everywhere. Wherever you have used your credit or debit card is a source of data. This is where information about you, your bank, credit records, buying habits and what cards you hold is stored and all with your name on it. If this information gets out “in the wild” people are now in your business and you know how black people feel about that and our money.

Lets look closer at where your information can be found. Here is a list of businesses that may hold information about you and your money. Add to this list any place you have used your credit or debit card.

  • Hotels and resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Ticket sellers
  • Entertainment companies
  • Sports teams
  • Fitness clubs
  • Salons and spas
  • Insurance companies
  • Mortgage companies
  • Utilities
  • Mobile phone providers
  • Internet providers
  • Money managers
  • Banks and credit unions
  • Credit card issuers
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Doctors and Dentist Offices
  • Auto repair shops
  • Hair and beauty salons
  • Daycare providers
  • Retail stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations

How serious are data breaches? According to USA Today 43% of businesses have suffered data breaches in the past year. Lets be real about that statistic; many of the large businesses will report a data breach especially when the breach involves millions of credit or debit cards. But smaller business may not report a data breach if they even realize they have had one. That’s why you should be concerned.

Not only are data breaches more frequent but they are increasing in size. The latest big data breaches at the big retailers have lost more than 300 million records. You are probably one of millions of black people who have shopped at Target, Kmart and Home Depot. Your data has been stolen.

If you want to see how serious this data problem has become here are a few frightening numbers from KrebsOnSecurity.com.

You would think with the ever increasing size and frequency of breaches businesses would be ready to act. But less than 30% of companies have a data breach response plan or team in place. That number is down from 39% of businesses that didn’t have them in the previous year. So the simple fact is that black people need to be concerned. We have to be knowledgeable and ready to act in the event of a data breach to protect our information.

But data breaches do not just strike retail businesses. Hospitals are big targets for hackers. According to Health IT & CIO Review since March there have been at least ten hospital data breaches. Los Angeles County Medical Facilities  alone lost nearly 170,000 patient medical records.

Director of Threat Intelligence at Phish Labs Don Jackson monitored underground hacking exchanges and found that cyber criminals can make 10 times as much money hacking hospital records than stealing your credit card data.  Hackers steal names, birth dates, and insurance policy numbers then use the data to create fake IDs to buy things like home medical equipment which can later be re-sold. The data is also used to file phony insurance claims. 

Now the question is what happens to all that stolen data. The new gold mine of the criminal world is data. AACR Rule #5, The currency and commodity of the digital age is called information. According to the RAND Corporation National Security Research Division  the stolen data black market has become more profitable than the drug trade. You read that correctly.

What black people should understand is that stolen data is far more than credit card numbers and personal information. Hackers can make money with pictures from your Facebook page and other social media outlets. Hackers see sites like LinkedIn and eHarmony as a treasure trove of passwords that can be used to update their “rainbow tables.” Rainbow Tables are huge databases hackers use to hack harder-to-crack encrypted passwords. Would you believe that hacked Twitter accounts are considered more profitable than stolen credit cards?

The bottom line is that black people are just as vulnerable as other Americans to hacks and data breaches. The difference is that collectively we may not be as savvy to what and how this information is used to steal from us or how to protect ourselves. Its strange because black people use mobile and online banking more than other groups. We need to step up our game.


Online Shoppers Cautious After Data Breaches

According to a survey  by USA Today 24% of people who regularly shop online have cut back or stopped altogether. The reason? Recent large data breaches has created caution among online shoppers.  According to the report 24% of those surveyed said they had recently stopped buying online because of concerns about the safety of information they might put online. Another 56% said they reduced the number of Internet sites they used or were sticking with larger, more well known companies they felt were safe.

The survey offered no breakdown of the African-American market and their reaction to data breaches and online shoping. But African-Americans do shop online. According to a AdWeek.com report nearly all African-Americans shop online and MinorityEye.com reported that online spending by black people has climbed to over $1.2 trillion by 2012.

The survey also found that users are now watching their bank accounts more closely. The survey showed that  55% of respondents said they were checking their banking, investment and credit card sites frequently for evidence of fraud.  

The poll indicated that people with less education and less income were more inclined to stop shopping online altogether.  Those with more  education with greater incomes reacted by changing passwords and reducing the sites they shop on.

The evidence indicates that credit and debit card fraud is starting to erode confidence in providers like VISA, MasterCard and AmericanExpress. Many consumers are using cards less often or simply abandoning them altogether after fraud incidents. This according to a global survey of 6,100 consumers by ACI Worldwide.

In the US, cards that have suffered a breach are less likely to be used. There is even a term for it, “back of the wallet” syndrome. American credit cards are replaced because of fraud or a data breach get the back of the wallet treatment even though most holders are protected from fraud with the losses being absorbed by the company. Around in one in four say they used fraud-hit cards less often than before, presumably because of the fear of a repeat incident.

Consumers in the U.S. and other countries seem less likely to lose confidence completely. But around 12 percent believe that providers should be doing more.

Breaking It Down

Why has no one asked the black community about online fraud? I searched all over the Internet with no luck. But that is really not important. What is important is that we understand that we are not immune from from fraud since we hold those same credit cards in our wallet.

Black people should spend a little time reading the fraud policies of the credit card providers. Understand the steps you have to take to report a fraud and make damn sure you check your bank and credit card statements frequently. Like every night, online, before, during or after watching Scandal!

Reducing the number of websites you shop on is a good idea. But a better idea is to reduce the information that website has on you. You should delete your credit card number from your profile if you have one with a shopping site. When you do an online purchase re-enter it every time you shop there. If the website asks you if they can the charge the credit card you have on file then answer no and use a different card and then erase them both if you can.

Black people don’t play when it comes to our money. How many time have you heard me say that? So we need to be just as aware and suspicious of the websites and card companies as others.