The recent hacking attacks at Anthem, Target, Neiman Marcus and others have clearly demonstrated the items that are at the top of the list for thieves and criminals now — the personal, identifying information of consumers and clients across the country. The data obtained in these attacks range from Social Security numbers to home addresses, and with enough information, criminals can stage a successful takeover of a person’s online existence and essentially steal his or her identity.
As more and more people and companies turn to online storage systems to secure information, identity theft becomes more common across the board. Now, a teen or young adult with a decent understanding of systems and coding might have the ability to hack into a neighbor’s wireless connection and gain access to all kinds of information, from bank passwords to shopping habits to stored credit card numbers.
Even if the amateur hacker does not do anything with this information, accessing it could lead to potential criminal charges, especially with the continued focus on identity theft and internet security.
Federal Identity Theft Laws
Identity theft is considered any unauthorized use of another person’s sensitive information. This can be anything from date of birth and home address to a bank account number and ATM PIN.
Social Security numbers are particularly susceptible to fraud because a person can use someone else’s SSN to create a whole new financial identity with credit card applications, loan applications and other fraudulent attempts to spend money or obtain things while posing as someone else. The maximum penalty for identity theft in most cases is 15 years in prison, along with fines and the forfeiture of any property obtained through identity theft.
Law Firms Need to be Wary
Most law firms may not retain sensitive client information such as medical records, financial account data or complete personal identifying information, but New Jersey attorneys recommend being wary of the potential for cyber-attacks and hacks that could put the firm in jeopardy.
Lawyers compile different types of sensitive information when they handle cases for their clients, including private counsel conversations, testimonies, evidence and trial strategies that, if leaked, could be devastating for a client and could leave the firm open to liability lawsuits.
Internet programs like the Cloud or Dropbox services are convenient for storage and sharing information between parties, especially for on-the-go attorneys with a number of clients to keep track of and documents and data to have on hand, but these services come with certain risks.
Cybersecurity is being tested every day and more and more companies are falling victim to its weaknesses. For example, the fallout from Anthem’s breach has yet to be fully realized, but the company may be on the hook for complications that arise for their consumers as a result of the leaked data.
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, a New Jersey law firm, our attorneys are vigilant about protecting your confidential information from hacking. We are constantly updating our policies and security procedures to better protect you. At HCK, we also represent clients who have been accused of accessing sensitive information or committing identity fraud. To discuss your case with one of our attorneys, call HCK today.