Data Security & the Threat of Cyber Attack
While there is some overlap in sentiment with Hensarling and Crapo, I also see the wisdom of the provision in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Given the massive failure of regulatory bodies to prevent a financial crisis that created a recession and nearly destroyed America’s reputation in global financial markets, regular check-ups are a very good idea.
That said, we are in the middle of a cyber war with an enemy we barely understand. The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress released May 6 explicitly pointed to China in describing the threat of cyber attacks. But China isn’t the only threat. Hackers are everywhere, and they have different reasons for wanting access to your files and personal information.
An expanded National Mortgage Database would be like El Dorado for every kind of cyber attacker out there, the information not only being of value to identity thieves, but potentially as part of a full-spectrum attack on U.S. financial markets.
While the threat of cyber attacks grows, we need to be very careful about the kind of information we aggregate and store in any one place. Unfortunately, attacks are a given, breaches are the third certainty in life and until that is no longer the case, until we can be absolutely certain that the information we collect is safe, we should be exceedingly mindful about avoiding the data equivalents of a Pandora’s Box.
In the meantime, what – if anything – can you do? You should always, no matter what, stay on top of your financial statements and credit standing. Any discrepancies or inaccuracies on bank or credit statements, or on credit reports, could mean that your sensitive data has landed in the wrong hands and is being used fraudulently. It’s also a good idea to monitor your credit scores for changes that could indicate a problem lurking in your credit reports. You can get your credit reports for free once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com, and monitor your credit scores monthly for free on Credit.com.
Adam Levin is chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.