Equifax data breach may have been state-sponsored crime

The theft of personal names, birth dates, social security numbers and addresses may have been a state-sponsored crime, according to the Department of Justice.
4:03 | 02/11/20

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Transcript for Equifax data breach may have been state-sponsored crime
The shocking update on the Tampa fax data breach that impacted nearly half of the country it was one of the largest in American history. 145. Million people impacted. According to the Department of Justice the theft of personal names first state sells security numbers and addresses may have been a state sponsored crime. A Pierre Thomas has more on this troubling story. Residents Justice Department is pointing their finger at the Chinese military for being responsible for this extraordinary breach which impact is so many Americans as such a personal way. Justice Department officials and the FBI accused four members of Chinese People's Liberation Army have hacking Equifax. Charging them when economic espionage wire fraud and a number of conspiracies. Including one involving computer fraud according to US authorities beyond the privacy breach the computer attack as part of a broad plan by China to steal intellectual property. In this case they appeared to want to better understand how US companies use artificial intelligence to manage information about millions of citizens. It's always warned the stolen information could be used to target Americans including high ranking government officials. When you have so many people's Social Security numbers addresses and dates of birth that's ridiculous amount of problems that can be traded Lindsay. RA Pierre Thomas joins us now in NCs scenes here are dissident trying to get an understanding of these suspects that are in China what's the real chance that they'll be apprehended. This really low. Einstein was not going to cooperating the FBI was pretty upfront by saying they don't have any real ability to arresting suspects at the moment. And they've threatened that if that LA's hackers Everly China they will be grabbed and he warned the US has a long memories Lindsay. Here it's extremely rare for US law enforcement named Chinese Government officials in such an open way why now. With so much and stay with those huge ongoing trade negotiations when China. Losing even as the US president tries to resolve these trade deals with China US law enforcement is trying to send a message to the FBI claims this is an epic battle. To determine who will be the dominant economic superpower in the 21 century. And I don't think it's clear while the Chinese Government won his soloist Zito information about so many Americans capacity is what concerns everybody Lindsay. Pierre Thomas and he's so much for your reporting and let's turn now to Matt Katz associate managing for her editor for digital trends. Now thanks so much for joining us we appreciate your time. Thanks very make so how can we protect ourselves from these massive data breaches. The number one Singh to do is to immediately sign up for her credit monitoring monitoring services. Oddly you can find them on line fairly easily summer free summer paid I particular like credit karma. At a lot of banks and credit card companies offer them and what does well what that basically does. His it'll send you an alert anytime something suspicious happens with any of your personal information from your Social Security number to a credit card number. Hate us a little bit of an explanation about and in the idea of two factor authentication and what are the scammer who gets your phone number. And that nothing is perfect nothing is ever going to be a 100% effective. But you want to make it as Harvard as possible. For someone to pack your personal information. One of the best ways to do that is to factor authentication which is when us if you log in your email account its and who attacks with a little code number country you log in. There are ways around this but it is particularly hard and someone might just move on to an easier target if they can't get into your accounts right away. When freezing your credit report me at all helpful. If you start to notice something suspicious and definitely contacting the Big Three credit bureaus in freezing your credit report should be media first step if you think something is happening. To your credit rating if your Social Security number has been compromised. The best ways to find out is to enable text alerts for any of those free credit monitoring services could see you find out the second day see something suspicious. All right Matt Katz associate managing editor for digital trends thanks so much for joining us tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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