In recent weeks, there have been news stories of high profile data breaches, in which innocent people’s personal information was made vulnerable, or deliberately accessed, by wrong-doers.  Aside from the Wikileaks issues, probably the most widespread of these data breaches occurred at Yahoo.  The online media company reported that in 2014, somewhere between 200 million and 500 million users had their accounts hacked, and the hackers obtained access to the users’ names, email addresses, addresses, telephone numbers, and hashed passwords.   The hackers attempted to sell a database with these users’ information and claimed that this information was derived from a data breach in 2012.

An article summarizing the Yahoo data beach can be found here:

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3123426/security/yahoo-data-breach-affects-at-least-500-million-users.html

On a much more local scale, but similarly troubling, the Village of Mastic Beach, in Suffolk County, Long Island, reported that they had been the victim of a different kind of data breach.  A former employee of the Village is alleged to have illegally accessed the personal data of hundreds of Mastic Beach residents, including local political figures and their extended families, for as yet unknown purposes.  This employee (allegedly) obtained this information by fraudulently claiming to have law enforcement credentials in order to access proprietary databases used by law enforcement, lawyers, and private investigators.

I am very proud to announce that a digital forensics’ team from Radius Investigations, led by my partner Matthew Seifer, uncovered the Mastic Beach data breach and have provided evidence of the former employee’s unlawful activity to the property authorities.

The press release from the Village of Mastic Beach disclosing the data breach, and Radius Investigations’ work in uncovering the breach, can be found here:

https://www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/notices/2016/9/27/mastic-beach-village-press-release-and-mayoral-statement-data-breach-september-27-2016

Although vastly different in scope, these two cases reflect the sad truth that we are all vulnerable to identity theft as a result of criminal activity, whether through weak points in our email systems, our use of credit cards, or the abuse of power by individuals whom we have entrusted with our information.  In fact, identity theft is one the fastest growing crimes in modern society, and can represent substantial ongoing challenges for individuals who have fallen prey to it. One of the larger concerns that people may have is the fact that many cases of identity theft can start with minor, easily overlooked changes to bank accounts and credit charges. However, if these things are left unaddressed, they can rapidly escalate and destroy lives.

In a future blog post, I will detail a number of steps that you can take to reduce your vulnerability to identity theft.  In the meantime, if you believe that you have been victimized by identity thieves, or would like more information about how to protect yourself, call either local law enforcement, or feel free to contact Radius Investigations toll free at 1-888-698-0077, or our office number, 631-351-6473, or email us at [email protected].

 

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