On February 11, 2020, Roger S. Greenwell, risk management executive, and chief information officer of the Defence Information Systems Agency (DISA), contacted more than 200,000 people to let them know of a data breach [^1]. DISA is the U.S. Defense Agency responsible for securing communications for President Trump and other White House officials, in addition to military cybersecurity, including communication networks in combat zones. In his letter, he states:
During the May to July 2019 timeframe, some of your personal information, including your social security number, may have been compromised in a data breach on a system hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)
While there is no evidence that the personally identifiable information (PII) has been used maliciously at this time, DISA is offering free credit monitoring to all affected by this data breach.
Check if your information has been leaked
What Does This Mean For Me?
If a major department within the United States government--one responsible for cybersecurity and preventing data breaches--can be hacked, it proves that anyone can be hacked. The U.S. government set aside 17.4 billion dollars for cybersecurity funding. This is far more than the average business can afford to set aside, yet they were still hacked. Social security numbers aren't easily changed, and those affected must now be on alert for signs of identity theft for the rest of their lives.
While you may be taking steps to stay safe online yourself, this doesn't mean that everyone else is doing the same. The news headlines are full of reports of major websites experiencing data breaches, but only a small number of these breaches are made known to the public. Companies hide breaches every day for fear of the negative attention and loss of business that comes with their violation of customers' trust.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Activate Live Account Monitoring
Live account monitoring would alert you right away if your account information were shared online or on the dark web for criminals to access so that you know to begin taking action to protect yourself right away. Don't trust that a company is going to contact you if they experience a breach, as you may never be notified.
Know Ahead of Time What To Do If Your Information Is Breached
If you learn of a data breach, the chances are that you're going to feel a bit panicked. Times like this tend to cloud our better judgment, and, in turn, we miss specific major steps that need to be taken. This can cause the situation to become even more devastating than it was when it started. You can learn about what to do when your information has been breached here: I've Been Breached: A Step By Step Guide to Protecting Your Data.