It just keeps getting harder to believe! No matter what you do, be sure to keep your data within your four walls and make sure your defenses are turned up to 11. Then, and only then, be comfortable providing internal and external audiences synthetic data, that is, data that has been obfuscated so entirely that it is impossible to learn anything about any one individual. The data remains useful for aggregate analysis but is entirely useless at the individual record level.
“For well over a decade, identity thieves, phishers, and other online scammers have created a black market of stolen and aggregated consumer data that they used to break into people’s accounts, steal their money, or impersonate them. In October, dark web researcher Vinny Troia found one such trove sitting exposed and easily accessible on an unsecured server, comprising 4 terabytes of personal information—about 1.2 billion records in all.
While the collection is impressive for its sheer volume, the data doesn’t include sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. It does, though, contain profiles of hundreds of millions of people that include home and cell phone numbers, associated social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Github, work histories seemingly scraped from LinkedIn, almost 50 million unique phone numbers, and 622 million unique email addresses.
“It’s bad that someone had this whole thing wide open,” Troia says. “This is the first time I’ve seen all these social media profiles collected and merged with user profile information into a single database on this scale. From the perspective of an attacker, if the goal is to impersonate people or hijack their accounts, you have names, phone numbers, and associated account URLs. That’s a lot of information in one place to get you started.””
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group