Stolen Data is Expensive


Stolen Data is Expensive

Back in the 2000s, a department store where I shopped experienced a data breach. A strange $60 charge showed up on my bill a couple of times. It was the amount and then the reoccurrence that set me off. Who spends exactly $60 on clothes and housewares two months in a row? 

The first one got by me, and I chalk that up to the weary blur of raising toddlers; but the second was a complete red flag. By then, my credit card company was already on the watch and prepared to refuse any further such charges, and I was refunded my $120.

I came out of the situation financially unscathed. Mentally, my trust in the security of my credit card data was completely demolished. reported that the top 15 worst data breaches in history are: 


2.Adult Friend Finder





7.Heartland Payment Systems 


9.Marriott International

10.My Fitness Pal



13.Sina Weibo



Of those, I have accounts with five (not Adult Friend Finder). In addition, companies including Home Depot, Ticketmaster, British Airways, Uber, Capital One, Target, and Google have all experienced the loss of data to hackers. And those are just a few of the companies that currently have my personal and financial data in their systems. 

Adobe lost the data for nearly 3 million encrypted customer credit card records, plus login data for an unknown number of accounts. Marriot’s security incident affected around 500 million customers and it was fined $124 million; Equifax was fined $575 million. 

Speaking for myself, I’ve come to accept that cyber attacks are one of the costs of the digitalization of the economy. I don’t appreciate or approve, but obviously, they are going to happen and I’m not surprised when they do. 

There will always be a smarter hacker; a more brutal villain; a more vicious blackmailer. There is language specific to the data breach scenario that adds to the sense of danger and intrigue – terms like malware, ransomware, bug bounty, cybercriminal, and firewall.

What’s important to me is that a company has done all it can at the outset to avoid unauthorized access to stored credit card and personal data, and then if one occurs anyway, that there is a plan in place to act quickly. 

I’m really, mostly worried about not losing my money. So far, that hasn’t happened. I’m not sure what hacker has time to comb through 500 million user records to find my Target card data so they can buy underwear, throw pillows and Cheezits. But what do I know about hackers?

One of the many repeat conversations in my household is the correct way to create and store logins and passwords. I’m not concerned about somebody discovering my logins and passwords due to my own negligence. They are safe enough in their storage place – which is not my head. I tried that method for many years and found it a completely inadequate system that guaranteed frustration, as well as repeated, time-consuming interactions with the “forgot my password” button.

So, if somebody wants my list of passwords, including the one I use once a year to request clearance for my daughter to play high school golf, and another that I’ve only used once in 5 years to sign in to Duolingo, they’re going to have to be pretty determined. They’ll have to break into my house, fight off my killer cat, dodge my daughter and her deadly golf driver, and find the secret hiding place where I keep all my passwords. I wish them luck.

But really, the place where my logins and passwords are in the most danger is in the systems of all the places where I have accounts or simply stop in as a guest. These are places where I shop, travel, manage my money, interact with my doctor and insurance company, electronically sign tax forms, buy apps and music, and so on.

I don’t have any parking apps just yet. So far, my lifestyle hasn’t indicated a need for one, but I will get one when the time comes. The parking industry, like every other, is responsible for the financial data of its customers.

I can’t speak for everyone, but as a consumer, I know that making it possible for me to use my credit card here, there, and everywhere is a challenging task. I enjoy the convenience and spend my money accordingly. In return, I expect vendors and suppliers to do their absolute best to protect my personal financial information.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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