The Data of More Than 120 Million American Households Left Exposed Online
Researchers based in California reported that the information of 123 million US households had been found exposed on the internet. Every single person with an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account and the correct URL has been able to access the leak. The exposed data contained general information about almost every American household in the US.
The leak is known to have included addresses, phone numbers, family interests, household income, the number of children who live in the property, and the amount of money owed on mortgages. The data was unintentionally left up-for-grabs for anyone interested, by marketing analytics company called Alteryx. On their website, Alteryx say that the data “includes consumer demographics, life event, direct response, property, and mortgage information for more than 235 million consumers and 113 million households.” After the leak was discovered the marketing analytics company took action, and the information is no longer available for public view. The data has been collected and sold to Alteryx by Experian.
Social security numbers, full names, DOBs, and credit card details are not known to have been exposed. However, experts say that hackers would have been able to quickly cross-reference the information with previous leaks such as the massive Equifax leak earlier this year. Having access to such information could have been the missing part of the puzzle for hackers wanting to break through their victim’s security questions or build profiles about their potential victim.
While the information has already been shared with the world, it is your responsibility to make sure that no one takes advantage of it. Keep in mind that when setting up new online accounts you have to make sure that the answers that you add to the security questions parts of the accounts setup are not easily guessable. Never choose the ‘city where you were born’; ‘your favorite sports team’; or ‘your favorite color.’ With the information from leaks like this one and the vast amounts of digital prints people leave nowadays, such answers could easily be guessed by cybercriminals. Sadly, leaks are happening all the time so do not forget to install antivirus software and change your passwords at least once every three months. Having an additional security layer is crucial for your family wellbeing.
You have to remain vigilant and keep an eye on your credit report and regularly check your banking statements for suspicious activity. If you see something that doesn’t feel right, report it immediately.