There have been a couple of stories this week about relatively large data breaches. Wyze Labs, Inc., reported a data leak that could affect up to 2.4 million customers, while Wawa, the Philadelphia-based gas station and convenience store chain, recently discovered and reported that malware (which went undetected for approximately nine months) had created a “large-scale data breach.” Several lawsuits have been filed by customers claiming to have been impacted by the hack… but who was really hurt?
I subscribe to an FBI newsletter that lists about a dozen hardcore cyber-attacks every day. Cybercrime, regardless of its scope and size, has become as unremarkable as burglary (stealing property without interacting with people), and for good reason — it is practically victimless.
If you use best practices data protection and purchase cyber-insurance, you have done all you can reasonably do. This is an arms race between bad guys and good guys (you’re the good guy). The good guys have to be perfect all the time, while the bad guys have to get lucky (or find a dumb good guy). Everyone knows this.
You can’t qualify for cyber-insurance unless you have taken reasonable precautions to make yourself insurable. Once insured, the only risk (and it’s a big one) is public relations.
For those of us who leave a data trail wherever we shop (everyone), there is a statistically insignificant chance that you’ll become the victim of identity theft (you really need to be targeted to have your identity stolen), so worrying won’t help; you just need to be vigilant. If your identity is stolen, it is a giant time suck, but there are very few sad endings (although the ones that make the news are, for obvious reasons, spectacularly unfortunate).
However, at some point, your credit card numbers will be used by people trying to commit credit card fraud (for which you have no liability whatsoever). Other than getting a notice from your credit card company that they need to send you a new credit card, there’s really nothing to see here.
Fraud protection services are useless. If you are worried, check your credit card statements carefully every month. Set up email or text notifications for charges over a certain amount. Or, get one credit card just for online purchases, one for recurring online bills, and one to use while making physical (card in hand) purchases. That will minimize your inconvenience when (not if) your credit card needs to be replaced.
The rest of this is not new, and it is not news. It’s never going to get better; it will most certainly get worse. The good news is that you really don’t have to worry about it… unless you’re a lawyer. Then, you can maximize the expense for the real victims (the business that was hacked and the credit card issuers) by suing them on behalf of people who suffered no harm (the credit card users) while the insurance companies pay for everything.
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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.