Data Security

8. Effect of Security Breaches on Individuals

Identity Theft

It is tempting to think of hacking and data breaches only impacting large businesses. After all they're the ones that can spend time and money capturing, storing and processing large amounts of data.

This would be a serious mistake. Generally, hackers are after personal data kept by companies about past, current and potential future customers as a means of getting to something else. This means that everybody could be affected and individuals are often the first to find out something has gone wrong.

Once hackers can get hold of personal data, they can in effect, steal their identity and use it to commit a range of crimes, the results of which could lead to 'incorrect medical diagnosis, to (virtually) killing you, to losing your job and your chances of getting credit".

1. Financial Problems

Financial problems caused by ID Theft can be many and various.

  • Straight forward theft. The ID thief simply accesses the account of the owner and takes the money.
  • Opens up a credit card in the victim's name and buys items for probable resale.
  • Use the authority of the victim's ID to realise investments and transfer the money to other accounts. Maybe for money save up for retirement of children's education.

And once in debt victims can suffer harassment from creditors - people to whom money is owed - and debt collectors.

Financial Problems

2. Credit Issues

This extends upon the credit card issue.

  1. The ID thief spends up-to the credit limit on credit card accounts opened without the victim's knowledge.
  2. Bills go unpaid, because the victim doesn't know about them.
  3. The credit rating of the victim is lowered as they become known as being a bad risk: they don't pay their bills remember.

Subsequently, the victim only discovers the problem when they apply for credit or loans to possibly buy a house or a car.

3. Legal Problems

Many victims have to hire lawyers to help them resolve problems arising from identity theft and deal with companies attempting to recover money for items purchased on the victims behalf.

Hiring a lawyer can easily cost £2,000 and can quickly rise up from there depending on the complexity of the case.

Legal Issues
Lost Benefits

4. Benefit Losses

Many people receive benefits in one kind or another. With identity theft, these can be put at risk, leading to severe hardship. And the longer it takes to resolve the issue of identity theft, the worse it can become for victims.

5. Damage Careers & Job Loss

Increasingly employers look at credit histories, employment & criminal histories etc. A bad report acquired by someone using your stolen identity, could lead to being rejected for interview, or even being sacked.

And of course, if people believe that the data breach is your responsibility while working as an employee, your employment can be cut brutally short.

Bad Credit History

6. Virtually Dead

It is not unknown, for people to steal identities, then rack up a series of debts and later registering themselves as being 'dead' as a way of escaping their creditors.

The genuine person only finds out that they're dead when they come to apply for credit, access government services or perhaps even when they try to take money out of their own account.

Persuading others that you're alive and well and that you are in fact, the person you say you are, can be surprisingly difficult, taking years to sort out.

This happened to July Rivers. She wanted open a bank account. The bank refused because according to their database, she was dead. July then faced a digital murder history as she tried to find out who had killed her. Eventually, the cause was traced to an ID thief attempting to escape creditors.

While being declared officially dead, might seem an extreme event, Social Services in America reckon to wrongly declare dead about 14,000 people a year due to fraud etc.

7. Cause Medical Issues

Medical ID theft is becoming a growing problem, especially in countries that have to pay for medical services. The simplest fraud is for the ID thief to claim money from insurance companies for treatment they haven't received. The victim is left with a rocketing health insurance bill without knowing why.

More worryingly is false creation of a medical record by an imposter that subsequently leads to misdiagnosis and errors in treatment of the victim.

Surveys have revealed almost 2 million people a year are affected. 15% have experienced misdiagnosis, 13% mistreatment and 14% suffering delays in treatment. Worst of all 11% were prescribed the wrong drugs.
Emotional Distress

8. Emotional Distress

Being a victim of any crime is a distressing experience. Being a victim of cyber crime can be more so, when you imagine the embarrassment and anxiety of telling people you've been the victim of identity theft and perhaps being hundreds or possibly thousands in debt.

Research indicates that victims become severely distressed and subsequently have serious problems at work or school forming relationships with others. The emotional distress experienced by victims can be more damaging and longer lasting than any monetary losses.

Guess what! Create a new page, titled Effect on Individuals and answer the following questions in your notebook.
  1. Apart from financial theft, make a list of 5 ways individuals can be affected by breaches in security. For each way, explain the problems it creates for those affected.
  2. Choose what you think is possibly the one most damaging consequence of a security breach. Find an example on the web and explain your choice in your notebook. Compare it with your partner to see if there's is worst
  3. When it comes to hacking, list the items of information the hackers really want?
No real identity theft is as funny as this, but it does highlight some consequences.

Having a good credit rating is becoming increasingly important. It can affect your chances of getting loans, jobs and impact on the quality of life, both now and well into the future.

  1. Explain the meaning of the term credit rating.
  2. Explain the significance of having a good credit rating.
  3. Explain how hacking can affect your credit rating.
  4. Experian is one of the better known credit rating agencies. Name at least two others.

Can you now do?

  • Explain how security breaches can affect individuals
  • Provide at least three different examples of how security breaches impact on individuals.

If you don't feel confident in meeting any of these performance criteria, ask your teacher or re-read the information again.

Cyber Security

  • Security Fundamentals
  • Data Security
  • Digital Forensics
  • Ethical Hacking
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