With stories about cyber attacks on in the rise in the media, industry experts are now able to report the emergence of certain trends. Personal data seems to be the key focus, including data that might be less overtly sensitive but could have longer term and far reaching security implications.
In the USA, the theft of Social Security numbers is becoming commonplace, but the US Government seems to lack any form of monitoring system to collate the statistics on this. A report by Verizon has estimated that around 60-80% of Social Security numbers have been accessed fraudulently – an astonishing figure. This may be explained to some extent by the electronic storage of data, compared to previous decades where there would have to be a physical breach and therefore a natural limit on how much information could be harvested at any one time.
It remains to be seen as to how much of this hacked data will be used for fraudulent purposes, and it could be months if not years before this becomes apparent. Unfortunately, the theft of a number is not sufficient grounds to change it; abuse must be evidenced for a new number to be issued and so this will leave some victims in a potentially uncomfortable situation for some time to come.