This Friday, November 30th, Marriott revealed that they were hacked for hundreds of millions of their customer records and data.
According to an ABC News article:
“The information of as many as 500 million people staying at Starwood hotels has been compromised and Marriott says it’s uncovered unauthorized access that’s been taking place within its Starwood network since 2014.
The company said Friday that credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken. For about 327 million people, the information exposed includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences. For some guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address or other information.”
There is wholesale outrage and worry on the internet regarding this breach.
But at this point is anyone really surprised?
Many of the largest, best funded international corporations with top tier talent have been hacked and had sensitive customer information stolen. Victimized companies include Facebook, Google, MyHeritageDNA, Experian, just to name a few.
The Marriott hack is just more evidence that “data security” in today’s world is more myth than fact.
And that doesn’t even begin to touch the small and medium sized companies who are hacked every day.
And remember, credit card information and social security numbers aren’t the only information that hackers want. This author has personally had his healthcare records stolen from a small hospital in an information breach. And was given two years of credit monitoring as “atonement”. Meanwhile, this information is out in cyberspace forever, available to the highest bidder.
The Solution Is Anonymity
When the internet first burst onto the world stage, anonymity was default. Your “real” identity was exposed only if you wanted it to be.
These days companies make it harder and harder to disconnect your online identity from your real life one.
It’s clear that the current online identity system is broken, because companies are either unwilling or unable to protect your data.
So What Now?
As consumers, we need to be our own privacy advocates. We need to use services that empower us to protect our identities.
Purchasing services from companies that accept cryptocurrencies, using a VPN or the Tor Browser and opting out of tracking are all ways you can limit your exposure to data collectors on the internet.
Our next post will go into all of these in more detail and explain how each can help protect you.