BALTIMORE, Oct. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week it was revealed that Experian, one of the world's largest data brokers, was hacked. The personal information of 15 million U.S. consumers was stolen during the attack, including names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, and passport numbers. Security researchers claim that the hackers are now selling the information on the black market.
Less than a month ago, TrackOFF, a Baltimore-based startup that develops privacy & security software, predicted this very scenario.
TrackOFF sounded the alarm about hackers targeting data brokers like Experian.
In a whitepaper submitted to the FTC in early September, TrackOFF warned that data brokers are increasingly attractive targets for hackers and foreign intelligence services. Data brokers like Experian maintain profiles on nearly every U.S. consumer, with unparalleled amounts of highly detailed and sensitive demographic and behavioral information.
Drawing a comparison to the recent hack at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), TrackOFF noted that by contrast, in the event that a data broker is hacked, "the vast majority of those affected by such a breach would have absolutely no knowledge of how their information came into the possession of these companies, nor could they have reasonably avoided such data collection practices in the first place."
Indeed, the information extracted by hackers from Experian's servers originates from credit application forms filled out by prospective T-Mobile customers. Those individuals are now left wondering why Experian was maintaining their personal information after running the credit check in the first place.
Where we go from here: regulatory reforms and consumer protection.
TrackOFF's whitepaper suggests that, because there is an absence of legislation to regulate the industry, the FTC should implement measures to reign in the mass collection and storage of consumer information by data brokers. In addition, consumers must take proactive steps to protect their identity and personal information from exploitation by data brokers and data analytics companies.
The company's flagship product, TrackOFF is the only software capable of combating the latest forms of online tracking, including digital fingerprinting. TrackOFF shields users' digital fingerprints, so that Big Data companies like Experian cannot identify and monitor their behavior. In addition, it allows users to clear their cookies and browsing history with one-click. A free 7-day trial of the software is available for consumers at TrackOFF's website, TrackOFF.com, or by clicking here.
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