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Data Leaks and Desensitization

By Rachel Zimny

In April, Linkedin was subject to a hack where over 500 million of their user’s data was put up for sale on a hacker’s forum. Last week, the website was targeted once more, suffered another huge data leak where 92% of all user data was stolen and posted for sale, also on a hacker’s forum.

Linkedin, of course, refutes this claim because it’s a PR nightmare. Their current statement is that the stolen information “came from other sources.” This is the legal way of saying they aren’t taking responsibility.

News of data leaks seem like everyday occurrences lately. It feels like anyone’s information can be taken, bought, and sold at any time. I’ve personally had my bank account hacked twice in the last year alone. It begs the question: what, if anything, is being done about this?

The internet as we know it is a relatively recent development. Many businesses only transitioned to utilizing it within the last 15 to 20 years. As an individual, I can shop, bank, work, basically live my whole life online. Companies have rushed to expand so this convenience can be possible, but security has lagged behind. Recent reports suggest that most websites have weak cyber security practices and often leave important data poorly protected. Being that this entire infrastructure was hastily put together in just more than a decade, it makes sense that protocols around how to protect information are lagging behind.

And yet, despite it being understandable, it’s not really acceptable. These businesses seem shockingly blasé about how exposed they’re leaving us. We are currently living in a world that is fully immersed in the ether of the internet. We exist twice, both as human beings in physicality and as virtual commodities online. There isn’t a real ability to opt out anymore as more and more services are primarily online, so shouldn’t there be a bigger push to keep everyone protected as we’re forced to exist in both worlds?

Apparently, cyber security jobs are projected to grow in number within the next 10 years but I’m not sure what good that does us now. The part about the constant data leaks that really gets to me is the fact that so many people in the US right now are living paycheck to paycheck. None of us has any money! I most recently used my Linkedin account to find work while I was laid off for over a year due to the pandemic, and yet somehow I’m more vulnerable for it as someone making less than a living wage. Why not target a bank or something and leave the average person the hell alone.

Cyber security IS infrastructure, and the US needs to make this a priority in their new infrastructure legislation and funding, as well as lead the world in protecting all of us in this Brave New Data-driven World we now live in.


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