Heard about the hackers who made off with personal data of 800,000 people connected to UCLA? It’s big news here in Los Angeles. Included names, Social Security numbers, birthdays and even home addresses of students, alumni, faculty, staff, etc. Although UCLA says there is no evidence the data has been misused, the fact that it was deliberately hacked indicates that the hacker knew what they were doing, and I’m sure he or she has plans for that data. (If I were them, I’d lay low for a while until this news blows over).
My mother studied at UCLA; so did an uncle. My sister earned her masters at UCLA. Even I took a few classes while in high school. Great! Our entire family is now at risk from a single hacking incident. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet. But who knows?
This just reinforces my argument that we each need to assume our Social Security number and birth date is publicly known. Since we don’t know who has it, and cannot control it anyway, then we must take steps to prevent misuse – on the assumption it can be widely discovered.
UCLA, by the way, to their credit, has posted some concise, understandable steps to take to put a fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit reports. See the FAQ on www.identityalert.ucla.edu. Why not make this the default status of consumer credit, and give each consumer the automatic right to control who gains access to that data and who may establish a new account or loan?
(Hint why it won’t happen: this would severely cramp the direct marketing advertisers who rely on that data and easy credit approval, like Experian with their unit Experian Interactive.)
Sheesh, today the LA Times reported that Boeing just lost a laptop with Social Security numbers and names of 382,000 current and former employees. Worse for me, as a contractor to Boeing in early 2001, I had to report my SSN to them, too…