U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and socialite Kris Jenner are four additional victims of the hackers who set up a site and posted on it confidential personal and financial information of a slew of celebrities and politicians.
Given the nature of the published information, the investigators and the public understandably believed that one – or maybe all – of the three major U.S. credit-reporting companies were compromised.
According to Bloomberg, Equifax has confirmed “that fraudulent and unauthorized access to four consumer credit reports has occurred,” but has declined to name the victims. Experian and TransUnion followed suit.
The three companies have jointly created a government-mandated website – annualcreditreport.com that was designed to allow consumers to easily access their credit reports.
It is believed that the hackers have trawled the Internet for public personal data (birth date, Social Security number) about the victims, and used it to initiate a request for a free credit report on the website in question.
Armed with additional data about previous addresses and similar details, they answered a number of “security questions” and that allowed them to impersonate the victims and to, ultimately, be handed their credit reports.
And here is, quite clearly, the proof that privacy is slowly becoming a thing of the past. It does not matter that the doxed individuals are celebrities. Put together our own promiscuous way of sharing personal things online with the accessibility of online public records and the fact that organizations and institutions always require us to share too much about ourselves and then don’t know how to adequately protect that information – and you will get incidents like this.
For my own part, I’m really getting sick and tired of apologies, we-care-deeply-about-your-privacy claims and promises of doing better next time around.