Here’s a fun question to pose to the family dinner table: Have you ever heard of Alteryx?
100 to 1 you never heard of them, but chances are good that they have heard of you. Alteryx is a data analytics company that makes its money by repackaging data that it’s collected from different sources.
And it became the latest reminder of how much data little-known companies have collected on us – and how little oversight there is over the security of that data.
Companies You’ve Never Heard Of Are Exposing Your Personal Data
Earlier this week, an analyst from the security firm Upguard shared that Alteryx had not properly protected detailed information it had collected on 123 million U.S. households (All told, there are about 126 million American households, according to the Census Bureau.)
This data leak was discovered by a researcher, and not (we hope) by a criminal. But the leak affects about as many people as the massive hack Equifax reported in September, which affected 145.5 million Americans, or nearly every adult.
Another Leaky AWS Bucket
The data had been left unprotected in an Amazon Web Services storage bucket available to anyone with a free AWS account. After being informed of the data breach, Alteryx secured the information, however, it had been available to identity thieves and scammers for a considerable period of time.
Alteryx and credit reporting agency Experian—which was the source of the data—both downplayed the risk of identity theft because no names were included in the data included in the data breach. This response is just PR and disingenuous as 248 data fields for every household were included in the data breach which are easy to map to the names.
This is just another example of the lack of important laws in the United States protecting people from data aggregators' negligence and requiring these companies to employ security measures to protect our personal data. Many other countries require such measures by law, the new European GDPR is an excellent example.
Pass this information along!
We suggest you send the following to your friends, family and employees, feel free to copy/paste/edit this message into an email to help other stay secure. You can also easily share this article using the social sharing icons on the top left of the article.
"There is another major data breach which pretty much covers every living adult in the United States. At this point you have to assume that cyber criminals have highly personal information that they can use to trick you. You need to watch out for the following things:
- Phishing emails that claim to be from your financial institution where you can 'check if your data was compromised'.
- Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
- Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
- Fraudulent charges on any credit card because your identity was stolen
Here are 5 things you can do to prevent identity theft:
- First sign up for credit monitoring - dozens of companies do that.
- Next freeze your credit files at the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember that generally it is not possible to sign up for credit monitoring services after a freeze is in place. Advice for how to file a freeze is available here on a state-by-state basis: http://consumersunion.org/research/security-freeze/
- Check your credit reports via the free www.annualcreditreport.com
- Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here is a site where you can learn more about how to protect yourself: www.idtheftcenter.org.