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Equifax Credit Agency Hack Could Hit Servicemembers Especially Hard

ID theft

By Debbie Gregory.

On September 7th,  Equifax Credit Agency has revealed that a “cybersecurity incident” has potentially exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans

Equifax, one of the nation’s big three credit reporting agencies, experienced an online security breach. While a large number of American civilians could potentially be adversely impacted, active-duty service members are twice as likely to have their identities stolen.

“Stealing sensitive information about members of the military, particularly those deployed from their normal duty station, doesn’t just raise national security concerns,” said Consumer Federation of America senior fellow Rohit Chopra. “ It can also create financial nightmares for servicemembers and their families.”

What we know so far is:

  • Criminals exploited a U.S.-based website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files
  • Unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017
  • Information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers
  • Credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed

“Since active-duty service members frequently move due to Permanent Change of Station orders, this can make it even harder to quickly learn if they’ve had their identities stolen,” Chopra wrote.

All three major consumer credit reporting agencies,  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, each have a web page where service members can request an Active Duty Alert on their credit report. This will last for one year and is renewable.

Another step we all can take is a credit freeze. This allows you to seal your credit reports and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you know and can use to temporarily “thaw” your credit when legitimate applications for credit and services need to be processed.

The added layer of security means that thieves can’t establish new credit in your name even if they are able to obtain your personal information.

Freezing your credit files has no impact whatsoever on your existing lines of credit, such as credit cards. You can continue to use them as you regularly would even when your credit is frozen.

The cost typically ranges from about $3 to $10 per person per bureau to freeze a credit report, although some states don’t charge a fee. On September 9th, Equifax tweeted that it will waive the fee for freezes for 30 days.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force to Recruit “Cyber SWAT Team”

af cyber

By Debbie Gregory.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the new, jokingly referring to the new service as “a nerd cyber SWAT team.”

The Air Force’s Defense Digital Service (DDS) will be a small team that will “help us build software excellence into new programs and troubleshoot existing programs that run into difficulties with software,” according to James.

The GPS Next Operational Control System (OCX) program “ran into some problems, in part, because we collectively underestimated the level of software complexity and the cybersecurity that the project would require,” James said. “So we brought in these experts — many of whom came from Silicon Valley — and they helped us to understand some very advanced, new software tools and techniques and practices. They gave us some advice that helped us collectively bring the program back on track.”

“The Air Force digital service is going to be a component of the [Defense Department] digital service,” James said, “which is a group of extremely talented engineers with skills honed in the private sector who today have come into government for a brief period of time …”

DDS is itself an offshoot of the U.S. Digital Service, which was created in 2014 with a mission of recruiting top private-sector technical talent to serve short stints in government to solve technical challenges such as overhauling the healthcare.gov website.

In addition to launching the AFDS, James said that the Air Force intends to grow its cyber workforce by 3,000 airmen in the Air National Guard by 2019. She said the new personnel would bring private sector experience to Guard units in 34 states.

James said that the next Air Force secretary must focus on a number of priorities including growing the workforce, improving readiness, upgrading conventional and nuclear systems and developing space capabilities.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Calling All Computer Hackers

hackerswanted

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon is looking for a few good computer hackers. But it may not be what you think.

In an effort to test the security of its web pages and networks, the cyber bug bounty program is aimed at finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will be “inviting responsible hackers to test our cybersecurity,” adding that he believes the program will “strengthen our digital defenses and ultimately enhance our national security.”

According to the Pentagon, this is the first time the federal government has undertaken a program with outsiders attempting to breach the networks. Large companies have done similar things.

Called “Hack the Pentagon,” the program is slated to begin in April. Hackers will target a predetermined system that’s not part of the Department of Defense’s critical operations.

According to Defense Digital Service (DDS) Director Chris Lynch, “Bringing in the best talent, technology and processes from the private sector not only helps us deliver comprehensive, more secure solutions to the DoD, but it also helps us better protect our country.”

The DDS is a Department of Defense unit that was launched last fall as part of the White House’s U.S. Digital Service.

According to officials, Defense Department systems get probed and attacked millions of times each and every day.

“We’re trying to adopt what is a best practice,” Carter said. “It’s a way of crowdsourcing the expertise and having access to good people. … You’d much rather find the vulnerabilities in your networks in that way.”

The new program is being led by the Defense Digital Service, which was created by Carter last November.

Carter said the hackers would get some kind of reward, beyond the distinction of having beached the world’s greatest military’s systems. But he didn’t provide details.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.