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Bob Haase's Another Can Of Worms

07-Aug-2014

Russian Hackers Obtain over a Billion User Names and Passwords

It was reported by the New York Times that Russian hackers gained access and stole over a billion user names and password combinations.  If you use the internet they might have been some of yours.  The records were discovered by a Milwaukee company called Hold Security and this was verified by an independent security expert for the New York Times.

You may not think this is important, but it will affect everyone in the United States and around the world regardless if you have internet access or not.  If you have a credit card this information may be stored and transferred by a company that was hacked. Information about you is gathered in many different ways and sold to spammers and you don't even need to own a computer.

An example is phone calls you might receive from a fraudulent operation that normally goes under the name or similar name of "Card Services".  These operations are usually based in other countries and if you pick up your phone and the caller says "Card Services" they already list you as an active phone number and your phone number, name, and other information is sold to spammers and other fraudulent companies.  Some of the companies that obtain this information have the intelligence to track your phone calls and spending and can cross reference information that could lead to identity theft.  I have pursued this with the Wisconsin No Call system and they have informed me that they and our Federal Government have no way of tracking or blocking these phone calls. 

If our government does not have the ability to track these calls or do a better job of tracking and pursuing computer hackers such as the Russion hackers discovered by Hold Security, what does it say for the ability of our government to protect us from another attach such as 911 or worse.  Maybe our government officials don't care as long as it does not affect them.  Every time we use our phone, purchase something with our credit cards, or log onto the internet we risk losing personal information.

In October an identity theft service in Vietnam obtained as many as 200 million personal records such as Social Security Numbers, credit card information,  and bank account information.  We have to find a better way of protecting our personal information and this could start with limiting the use of our Social Security Number for record keeping, better internet and credit card security, and better education and training on what we could and should be doing to protect ourselves.

None of this will happen until our government at least makes an effort at tracking companies like "Card Services" and computer hackers like the Russian crime ring that just got caught by a private security company with over a billion of our internet usernames, passwords, and E-mail addresses. The next thing they need to do is care enough to try and enforce some kind of punishment for this.  You might notice that I said "try" because right now they don't seem to care because they don't think you care.  You can change that by calling your representatives and asking what is being done about things like this.   You might get an answer like "there isn't much we can do".  I might reply that there is something that I can do and that is to elect someone else to represent me!

Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.

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