Radu Sion, Stony Brook University Professor and director of the University’s National Security Institute, said that the Equifax giant cybersecurity breach which compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans — almost half the country – will have long-term consequences for many Americans.
This is the absolute worst digital data breach in recorded history. Not only is its magnitude staggering, but its implications are bordering disastrous and are likely to haunt us for decades. This is because the data leaked is much more important than your standard email account login info or targeted phishing results.
Looking ahead, for decades almost 50 percent of the U.S.population will have trouble applying for home loans, credit cards, cell phones, or simply passing background checks.
We will need to determine and implement alternative data points and mechanisms to satisfy the requirements necessary to validate identity of individuals for this and next generation of U.S. citizens.
Unfortunately, this is not the last breach to expect. We have become completely dependent on technology. Due to market-driven incentives, in any new technology features that sell seem to take precedence over stronger security.
This incentive asymmetry reflects in almost everything we design. Most of our systems are designed with security as an afterthought —leaving them vulnerable to a determined attacker. This holds true not only for elections, power grids, and autonomous vehicles, but also healthcare, personal identity systems.
Not until security is given equal priority to features and convenience will the risk be reduced. And until individuals will stop posting their most intimate details on social media, the only way to achieve that is through well-thought out regulatory frameworks that strengthen our security.