Another day, another breach. It’s almost frightening how these announcements about massive security breaches which expose our private data have been commonplace. They barely even register a blip in the news cycle.
The latest is Marriott International. A breach of their security has exposed up to half a billion guests’ info. Let that sink in for a minute: half a billion.
It didn’t just reveal the normal names, address, email, and credit card info either. Hackers also were able to see passport info (Marriott said it would cover the cost for 327 million people to get new passports). That’s a big ticket item. Fortune reports that could cost the company as much as $36 billion: “a price tag equivalent to the value of the entire company.”
There were plenty of other breaches and hacks within the past month:
- Q&A website Quora was hacked this week as well, potentially exposing data and private messages from 100 million users.
- The FBI is investigating a cyber breach of the National Republican Congressional Committee
- Dell, the computer company, announced a security breach although it does not believe consumer data was exposed.
- The city of Ames, Iowa had its parking ticket system breached, exposing ticket payer data.
- Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin Donuts) had its perks reward club database hacked.
- Atrium Health had 2.6 million patient records exposed
- A breach potential exposed Medical Informatics Engineering’s 3.9 million patient records across 12 states.
- 41,000+ cancer patients had their records potentially exposed at Cancer Center Treatment of America’s Arizona facility.
- Vision Direct handles payments for Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, and PayPal. It got hit.
- Millions of passengers of Cathay Pacific airline are at risk from a security breach.
- Also breached: US Postal Service, 1-800-Flowers, Butler County, OH’s HIPAA records, and Nordstorm.
- Did we mention breaches at: Amazon, 1-877-Kars-4-Kids, Florida Department of Health, or Healthcare.Gov, or Commonwealth Bank?
The problem, as you can see, is widespread. More than 350 medical institutions have reported security breaches so far in 2018, including Anthem’s 79 million subscribers. This list is, by no means, exhaustive. An online search will show dozens and dozens of additional breaches and these are only the ones known or reported.
A Billion People Exposed?
I tried to quantify the sheer volume of breaches. It’s not easy. Many consumers will have accounts with multiple places. I’m sure there are cancer patients with Amazon accounts that might have done business with Commonwealth Bank, Nordstrom, or the USPS. Let’s say it’s a quarter-of-a-billion cross-over consumers. Even with a number that big – 250 million people – it’s safe to say that a billion people had their records exposed… in the last 30 days! That’s about 1 in 8 people on the planet.
Class Action Suit
As soon as the breach at Marriott was announced, you knew there would be a class action suit. There was. Affected consumers shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for a big settlement, though. In the recent privacy class action suit filed against Vizio, the lawyers got $5.6 million. Consumers impacted got 62 cents a piece. In the proposed $85-million dollar settlement against Yahoo, the lawyers bringing the suit get $35 million. The consumers get free credit monitoring.
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