It seems like there's a cyber security scare every day. Consumers are growing increasingly concerned about the safety of their accounts, and they have reason to be. Hackers will maliciously attack you anywhere — and we mean anywhere — they can to get your private information.
Unfortunately, we've just been alerted of another security leak, and this one looks bad. A recent security breach has hit Verizon, and it exposed the private information of millions — yes, millions — of customers.
According to a statement Verizon made to CNN, six million Verizon subscribers were affected by this leak. Customers' names, cell phone numbers, and account PINs were exposed. While someone getting their hands on your name or number may not be a huge deal, having access to your account PIN makes it incredibly easy to gain access to your account. They could alter your account settings and make changes to your devices with very little difficulty.
I know this is terrifying, but, before you freak out any further, know that the issue has already been resolved. Security company UpGuard informed Verizon of the issue on June 13, and it was officially resolved on June 22.
Moreover, there is one fairly reliable way to know whether your information was leaked. Only Verizon users who called customer service in the past six months were affected, and even if you contacted customer service in the last six months, your information wasn't necessarily made public. Some users PINs were hidden, while others were exposed. Nevertheless, I'd still recommend all Verizon customers change their PIN codes to be safe.
How could a hack of this size occur at such a major company? Well, before you denounce electronic records and revert back to using only pens and paper, there's an important element to this security breach that will hopefully calm your nerves. Surprisingly, hackers are not at fault here. It was actually carelessness on the part of Nice Systems — Amazon's S3 cloud platform — that led to this major breach. The Israeli company analyzed Verizon's customer service call log to provide beneficial feedback, but unfortunately, their assistance turned out to be detrimental. An employee at Nice Systems accidentally designated the server this information was on as public, making it so that anyone with a public link could access the data.
While it's surprising that a company could be so careless with such sensitive information, similar occurrences have happened before. Just last week, three million WWE fans experienced a similar situation. Personal information — including their earnings, addresses, and ethnicities — was leaked due to a similarly misconfigured Amazon S3 server.
This lack of security is incredibly frustrating to consumers, and the frequency at which issues like this occur is troubling. Hopefully, this latest leak will inspire companies like Nice Systems to take extra measures to keep our information safe, or we may have to go back to the days of filing cabinets and sending faxes.
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