Retirement should be a time that older Americans can sit back and relax, but for millions of former state workers in Delaware, this may be on hold until a recent data breach is resolved. According to Delaware News Journal, Aon Consulting, which handles the state's benefits accounts, is currently under fire after it accidentally released the personal information of roughly 22,000 state retirees online.
Although the breach was discovered quickly, the Social Security numbers, genders and birth dates of the retirees appeared on the state's website for four days, between August 16 and 20, giving criminals ample time to collect the data.
According to the company's spokesman, Joe Micucci, the information was supposed to be "randomized" by a set of numbers that would be used to identify retirees in place of their Social Security numbers and birth dates. The information was then to be passed onto insurance companies for the purposes of working out a possible plan to provide vision coverage to retirees and current employees. However, when the information was sent over, it was not in digital form as it should be, the website reports.
The company is currently investigating how the breach occurred.
Data breaches are becoming more commonplace as more financial institutions, hospitals, and insurance companies rely on technology to store consumer and employee records. A recent report conducted by Verizon and the U.S. Secret Service reveals that many data breaches are caused by computer configuration errors and a lack of diligence.
According to the report, 96 percent of the data breaches they studied could have been prevented by updated and more stringent procedures. A large portion of the study focused on the increased need of consumers to play a more active role in their own security. Speaking with banks and other organizations that have access to their personal records and financial data about their security procedures and notification policies may allow consumers to become more informed and make better decisions regarding the institutions they trust with their privacy.
Consumers whose information has been compromised in a breach should sign up for a credit monitoring service to protect themselves. Although credit monitoring will not prevent identity theft, it will help consumers better detect the crime and take action.