Bill Gates latest to get hit by hackers publishing personal informationon March 14, 2013 @ 2:46 pm (Updated: 3:18 pm - 3/14/13 )
That's the question many are asking after Gates became the latest celebrity to have his personal financial information exposed to the public. The release followed the publication of personal data belonging to public figures ranging from Beyonce and Kim Kardashian to First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in what's being called "doxxing."
The hackers appeared to have gathered the information from one of the three big credit reporting companies - Experian, Exuifax or TransUnion before posting the information on a Russian website, security company Sophos reported.
"We all have credit reports and that's what's being targeted here," said Christopher Budd, Threat Communications Manager at Trend Micro Inc. "What they're doing is something that we all should be concerned about and should all be taking steps to make sure we're protecting ourselves."
According to Budd, the hackers are scouring the Internet to piece together enough personal information such as your high school mascot or mother's maiden name to answer the security questions that allow access to your account on a credit reporting site.
"Those questions were designed to be information that you provide that tells these sites 'I'm really me' because that's supposed to be information that only you know."
The problem, Budd said, is we put all that information on Facebook and other social networks, making it easy for hackers to find.
"When you pick answers to questions, make sure they aren't findable by strangers on the Internet," Budd said.
So how do you know if you're vulnerable? Take some time and research yourself online like an attacker might.
"Taking time to understand what you look like online, what information you have out there that strangers can find and pruning that information appropriately is what you can and should do."
Another thing to check out is companies that aggregate public information such as your address and phone number in one place. While we can't completely hide all of our data, according to Budd you can ask the companies to remove at least some of it. And he strongly recommends reviewing your online credit report accounts and the security questions you've used to access them, then change them if you have any doubts.
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