Discuss how having your personal information in online databases may lead to identity theft. How can you protect yourself from this?

Our personal data litters the Internet and as the digital world provides more convenience out digital footprint and the attack surface continues to grow. Most of us continue to trade convenience for security, so there is no end in sight. I could not help but think about the Wired editor who had his digital identity wiped when I read this question, if you haven’t read this story I highly recommend it. The ease with which a hacker can gain access to a single piece of information and use it as the catalyst to take over a person’s life is astounding. Vulnerabilities come in all forms but what is interesting about the Wired editor story is that the vulnerability was in the process and exploited via social engineering. The growth of Identity Theft Insurance demonstrates how real identity theft is. One protection approach is to limit what we store online, for instance when that little check-box pops up asking to save your credit card information don’t click it. More and more organizations are encrypting or hashing personal/private data that they store in online databases, but we still have to be careful. I used to use an expiring credit card designed for online purchasing; the system would generate a temporary credit card number with a credit limit equal to what I was going to purchase, this was a good system, but it became cumbersome, so I traded security for convenience. I try not to use the same passwords because if one online database is compromised, I don’t want to give the person with the data the keys to my kingdom by using the same password everywhere. It’s also important to recognize how important password length and complexity is, tools like hashcat and cloud computing have made cracking simple passwords a trivial and speedy task, what used to take years now takes minutes.


Honan, M. (2012, August 06). How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-honan-hacking/

Pascal, A. (2014, February 27). Online Identity Theft Statistics – And How to Protect Yourself. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from http://eggtoapples.com/blog/online-identity-theft-statistics-and-how-to-protect-yourself/