There has been a lot of concern about hurricanes lately, but I see another storm brewing that will likely last for years: public anger over the massive Equifax data breach. As one commentator I heard put it, exposing sensitive data for 143 million people means all the adults in the nation.
It’s bad enough that this carelessness has cost me several hours of aggravation—time for which I will never be compensated.
However, it also happens to be the second time in three years that I learned my Social Security number and other private information had been grabbed by cyber crooks.
The first time came after I registered at a skin doctor’s office on an electronic pad, one of those “labor saving” devices that actually takes far more time than plain old-fashioned paperwork.
The really cool thing about the paperwork is in decades of filling out forms at doctors’ offices, nobody ever stole it. Thanks, electronic pad and those charged with guarding the information.
Now one of the three major credit bureaus entrusted with the information that makes our financial system turn pulls an “oops”?
Were the executives responsible for this gargantuan-sized miscue to face the public, I can imagine the protests would make the torch-wielding mob that came against Frankenstein look like child’s play.
Fanning their anger would be stories like this NPR item about executives selling their stock before the breach’s disclosure.
Equifax says they “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the same they sold their shares.” Color me (and millions of others) a tad skeptical about that statement. With New York’s attorney general investigating, I’m sure the truth will eventually surface.
In the meantime, I have discovered what a pain it is to change multiple passwords for email, Facebook, et. al.
Gone are the days of using variations on a few easily-remembered passwords. Properly equipped with Equifax-inspired paranoia, I invented new ones using unfamiliar combinations of letters, words, and symbols, in hopes it may deter identity thieves.
In my case, I felt fortunate that because of delays in several projects (one Irma-related), I could take the time to wade through this morass without feeling pressured by imminent deadlines.
I also got a chuckle when I tried to register a new secondary email address at LinkedIn.
LinkedIn wanted a phone number, so I put in my cell. The system said it would send a code, which I would need to type in to the box to complete the registration.
I waited. And waited. And waited.
Finally, I started over and went through the steps again. I never did see a code on my cell phone. Guess I won’t have an alternative email address on LinkedIn.
Hunting for Help
When I got into my Amazon account to change my password, I noticed something missing. I hunted for an email address at which I could inquire and finally gave up.
Instead, I resorted to responding to an email acknowledging my password had changed. Soon came a response: you can’t reply to this email address; contact customer service.
Unfortunately, my window of time soon closed and I haven’t had time to search for customer service. One can’t pick up a phone and call Amazon that easily.
Of course, that’s the kind of world we live in now. When things go wrong, you’re on your own. Woe be to the average person who doesn’t have a degree in high-tech gizmos, didn’t grow up with them, and doesn’t have time to learn how to use them.
Trouble is, sometimes it seems like those who are supposed to know aren’t much more adept at handling technology than me.