Now that 2019 is here, we can assess 2018. It was a terrible year for identity theft, privacy, and data breaches. Several corporations failed miserably to protect the data they archive about consumers. This included failures within websites and mobile apps. There were so many massive data breaches that it isn't a question of whether or not you were affected.
You were. NordVPN reviewed the failures during 2018:
"If your data wasn’t leaked in 2018, you’re lucky. The information of over a billion people was compromised in 2018 as many of the companies we trust failed to protect our data."
That's billion with a "b." NordVPN provides virtual private network (VPN) services. If you want to use the internet with privacy, a VPN is the way to go. That is especially important for residents of the United States, since the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed in 2017 both broadband privacy and net neutrality protections for consumers. A December 2017 study of 1,077 voters found that most want net neutrality protections. President Trump signed the privacy-rollback legislation in April 2017. A prior blog post listed many historical abuses of consumers by some ISPs.
PC Magazine reviewed NordVPN earlier this month and concluded:
"... NordVPN has proved itself to be our top service for securing your online activities. The company now has more than 5,100 servers across the globe, making it the largest service we've yet tested. It also takes a strong stance on privacy for its customers and includes tools rarely seen in the competition."
The NordVPN articled listed the major corporate data security failures during 2018. Frequent readers of this blog are familiar with the breaches. Chances are you use one or more of the services. Below is a partial list:
- Marriott: 500 million
- Twitter: 330 million
- My Fitness Pal: 150 million accounts
- Facebook: 147 million accounts
- Quora: 100 million accounts
- Firebase: 100 million accounts
- Google+ : 500,000 accounts
- British Airways: 380,000 accounts
While Google is closing its Google+ service, that is little help for breach victims whose personal data is out in the wild. The massive Equifax breach affecting 145.5 million persons isn't on the list because it happened in 2017. It's important to remember Equifax because persons cannot opt out of Equifax, or any of the other credit reporting agencies. Ain't corporate welfare nice?
What can consumers do to protect themselves and their sensitive personal and payment information? NordVPN advised:
- "Use strong and unique passwords.
- Think twice before posting anything on social media. This information can be used against you.
- If you shop online, use a credit card. You will have less liability for fraudulent charges if your financial information leaks.
- Provide companies only with necessary information. The less information they have, the less they can leak.
- Look out for fraud. If notified that your data was leaked, change your passwords and take the steps advised by the company that compromised your data."
Well, there you go. That's a good starter list for consumers to protect themselves. Do it because your personal data is out in the wild. The only question is which bad actor is abusing it.