Information is everywhere today, and not always only in the places where most would like it to be. Businesses of all sizes are happily building up huge stores of information, and some of these initiatives raise concerns among those who care at all about personal privacy.
When a database of this kind ends up becoming exposed to hackers, though, the related issues become even more pointed. As a recent report at yahoo news details, the likely impact of the Equifax hack that led to the leakage of so much personal information is only now starting to become clear.
The Dawn of a New Era of Identify Theft
Identity theft has already been an issue for many years, but the enormous Equifax hack suggests that a new wave of crime of unprecedented proportions may be on the way. For many years, criminals who wished to assume the identities of others for the purposes of obtaining credit stuck to low-tech tactics like sorting through trash in search of discarded documents.
The increasing centralization and digitization of personal information has made such techniques largely obsolete. Whereas a lone criminal might, in years past, have painstaking assumed the identities of a handful of victims over the course of a long career, a single digital attack today can yield enough information to commit millions of cases of fraud.
With more than one hundred and forty million sets of personal information having been accessed during the Equifax hack, analysts expect that plenty of identity theft will follow. Many people have therefore understandably become interested in ways of protecting themselves so as to minimize the damage that might ensue.
The Odds Are Better Than Many Realize
That is a reasonable response to the news, and one that should probably be encouraged. On the other hand, the sheer scale of the Equifax breach also means that the situation might be a little less dangerous than many people suppose.
Because actually carrying out any instance of identity theft still takes a good deal of difficult, old-fashioned work, the odds are that the vast majority of Equifax victims will end up not being subjected to this form of fraud at all. While it will still make sense to take precautions against identity theft, the average person will likely escape harm of any kind at all.