There have been numerous major data breaches in recent times that have compromised a lot of credit card numbers. The reaction from those breeches ranged from anger to outright demands that the government get involved to ensure another one never happens. As if trying teach that last crowd a valuable lesson fate has shown us once again that anything the private sector can screw up the government can screw up better (which is impressive because the private sector and really fuck some shit up):
A giant hack of millions of government personnel files is being treated as the work of foreign spies who could use the information to fake their way into more-secure computers and plunder U.S. secrets.
Millions of personnel files, including Social Security numbers, were acquired by an unknown attacker. This makes the compromise of credit card numbers look like amateur hour by comparison! But it gets better!
Federal employees were told in a video Friday to change all their passwords, put fraud alerts on their credit reports and watch for attempts by foreign intelligence services to exploit them. That message came from Dan Payne, a senior counterintelligence official for the Director of National Intelligence.
Emphasis mine. How in the hell is a regular low-level federal employee supposed to watch for attempts by foreign intelligence agencies trying to exploit them? Does the United States government honestly think other intelligence agencies are so inept as to have a guy with a strong foreign accent call up federal employees and say, “Hello, I’m a Nigerian prince…”? The average person has no idea how to defend themselves against a specialized spook (if they did spooks wouldn’t be very effective at their job).
Both the breach and the response are ridiculous. However this points to something more concerning. If the government can’t keep its personnel files safe or detect a major breach for months (the story notes the breach occurred in December but wasn’t discovered until this month) then why should we have any confidence in its ability to keep our personal information secure? Everything from tax records to our phone calls (thanks National Security Agency) are being held by the federal government and could be up for grabs by any competent attacker. Imagine the wealth of information that could be acquired if an attacker managed to breach one of the NSA’s databases. This is another reason why allowing the government to store personal information is so dangerous.