Between Equifax and Uber, there’s been a plethora of massive data breaches lately. These breaches not only compromise personal data, but they’re also leaving those impacted concerned about potential identity theft as a result. Now, India is faced with their largest data breach yet – as their governmental database Aadhaar has reportedly been compromised, which could affect the personal data of practically all of its 1.3 billion citizens.
How did this happen, exactly? Let’s start back in 2010 when, according to Buzzfeed, India started scanning personal details like names, addresses, dates of birth, mobile numbers, and more, along with all 10 fingerprints and iris scans of its 1.3 billion citizens, into a centralized government database called Aadhaar to create a voluntary identity system.
Fast forward to current day, and all of this crucial data is simply handed over to the Tribune newspaper for a whopping $8. The publication said its reporters were able to access names, email addresses, phone numbers and postal codes simply by paying an individual $8, who provided them access to the database. What’s more – for another $5 dollars, the same individual offered the reporters unique identification cards (called Aadhaar cards) that can be used to access various government services. The individual responsible for the leak is apparently part of a larger group that was able to access the giant database through former Aadhaar workers.
Mind you, there’s still a lot of speculation and questions around this massive leak with the government authority that oversees the database claiming that the data is “fully safe and secure.” However, one thing is for sure, the entire country’s population needs to be on alert for their personal data becoming compromised, or even potential identity theft.
So, what can these citizens do to ensure their personal information stays secure? Start with these tips:
- Regularly review your online account info. Things like regularly reviewing transactions online and making sure account contact info hasn’t changed are also good for keeping tabs on anyone trying to hijack your account.
- Set up an alert. If you know there’s a chance your personal data has been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit so that any new or recent requests undergo scrutiny. This also entitles you to extra copies of your credit report so you can check for anything suspicious. If you find an account you did not open, report it to the police or Federal Trade Commission, as well as the creditor involved so you can close the fraudulent account.
- Consider an identity theft protection solution. With this breach and others before it, consumers have been focused on stay protected against identity theft. That’s why, just this week, McAfee announced a solution that aids with exactly that. McAfee Identity Theft Protection allows users to take a proactive approach to protecting their identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep their identities personal and secured.
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