Last week, the Obama administration revealed that hackers had stolen the personal information of 21.5 million people who had applied for government background checks—this, after it was announced last month that hackers linked to China had gained access to sensitive data on military and intelligence personnel.
With every month, the number of Americans who have had their personal or financial information stolen by computer hackers grows, often by millions of names at a time. Companies like Target, Home Depot, Staples and Sony have all been subjected to massive data breaches, exposing customers' credit card information, phone numbers, and home addresses. And federal agencies like the postal service and the IRS have been targeted, too. Has your information been compromised, perhaps without your knowing it? Only the hackers know, but perhaps this quiz can help.
1. Have you ever worked for, or applied to work for, the federal government as an employee or contractor? (Or are you close to someone who has?)
Oh no! Unfortunately the government has suffered two major data breaches in the last couple months. The latest hack compromised personal information of 19.7 million people who applied for a background investigation to work for the federal government and nearly two million spouses of applicants.
2. Do you own a Sony PlayStation?
Oh no! In 2011, Sony PlayStation suffered one of the largest data breaches at the time. Account information of about 77 million users was stolen, including email addresses, login details, and possibly even credit card information.
3. Do you have a JP Morgan Chase or Citigroup account?
Oh no! In summer 2014, overseas hackers accessed the personal information of 76 million households, affecting about 83 million people. While JP Morgan Chase claims that there is no evidence account information was stolen, personal information including names, addresses, and phone numbers was believed to be leaked. In 2011, Citigroup suffered a similar hack that affected 360,000 customers.
4. Have you bought anything through eBay, Zappos, or LivingSocial?
Oh no! It's been a rough few years for ecommerce customers. Three of the largest ecommerce sites were hacked between 2012 and 2014. While the companies claimed no usable credit card information was stolen, personal information including passwords were compromised. They all urged their customers to change their passwords following the massive data breaches.
5. Have you shopped at Target, Home Depot, or Staples in the past few years?
Oh no! It looks like data breaches aren't just a problem for ecommerce sites. The point-of-sale systems of three of the largest brick-and-mortar retail stores were hacked in 2013 and 2014. Target offered to pay up to $10 million in damages to its customers who could prove they had unauthorized credit card charges or needed to replace IDs.
6. Do you use Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Twitch.tv, Mozilla, AOL, Evernote, Adobe, Scribd, or ... Adult Friend Finder?
Oh no! Well it's no surprise you said yes here. If you're an American in 2015 it's pretty hard to avoid coming in contact with the most popular digital services including the largest social networks and popular browsers. These companies all have dealt with hackers accessing the personal information of their customers over the last few years.
7. Have you ever served in the U.S. military?
Oh no! This year the U.S. military suffered a deeply troubling data breach, where the personal information of military personnel seeking security clearance was stolen by hackers linked to China. This information included arrest records, drug use and mental illness disclosures, opening up members of our Armed Services to blackmail and extortion.
8. Have you ever sent mail through the U.S. Postal Service?
Oh no! Of course you have! One of our oldest government agencies hasn’t quite caught up to the digital age. They allowed the personal information of nearly three million customers to be stolen, including names, home addresses and phone numbers. Employees weren’t safe either; 750,000 current and former employees personal information was also stolen from the payroll system.
9. Have you ever filed your taxes with the IRS?
Oh no! Well the good news is that of the millions of Americans who file their taxes each year, only about 100,000 people were affected by this 2015 data breach. Unfortunately for the people affected, their personal information including Social Security Numbers and home addresses were stolen. These hackers accessed account information by tediously answering security questions with stolen or purchased user information over a span of four months.
10. Is your email password “password”?
Well, that’s just reckless. Go change it right now. Same goes for passwords like “123456,” “qwerty,” and “batman.”
By Matt Unhjem, Travis Mannon, and Adam Peck.