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Forget Equifax. Facebook and Google Have the Data That Should Worry You

Published: September 12, 2017
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Source: Bloomberg

Just for a minute, imagine that hackers have gained access to a database containing sensitive information about hundreds of millions of people. In this totally hypothetical scenario, the theft would be comprehensive—including enough details to do real damage to those whose data had been exposed—and would involve a company that wasn’t widely recognized as a security risk. This large company would’ve exposed you, and everyone you know, to possible financial ruin.

No, I’m not talking about Equifax, the Atlanta-based credit reporting agency that disclosed a massive hack late last week. Think of a comparable breach at Google, Facebook, or Amazon.com.

Those companies, plus Slack, Tinder, and a half-dozen others, possess more than enough financial and personal data for hackers to steal our identities and, possibly, rack up fraudulent charges. They also have private messages, photographs, and most of our secrets. A large-scale attack on any one of these companies could make the Equifax hack, the theft of some 143 million Social Security numbers, look like petty larceny.

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