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News Alert: ID Theft Sweeping Midwest

At DataShield, we’re constantly stressing the importance of document and data security — something that seems easy to forgo if it hasn’t happened to you. Events like these, though, are stark reminders of exactly why keeping your business secure is so important.

Within the past week, two stories have appeared, both of which provide real-life examples of the importance of securing sensitive documents and data:

Identity Theft in Tulsa, OK

As Fox 23 news in Tulsa, Oklahoma reports, a simple traffic stop on Friday, April 5 led officers to the arrest of four individuals, after Tammy Petitt, the apparent leader of the group, confessed to running a large identity theft ring.

Officers believe that Petitt and three other individuals — possibly more — burglarized homes and local businesses, stealing what personal information they could find and using it to request personal documents, including driver’s licenses and social security cards.

The Tulsa Police Department is reporting that there could be up to several hundred victims from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, New York, and Tennessee. The four suspects are being held on various charges.

Data Breach in Cedar Rapids, IA

The FBI recently got involved in a major data breach at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wherein “hackers gained access to archived application information from February 2005 until March 13, 2013 that may have included applicant names, birthdates, race, contact information and social security numbers.”

Although the website was immediately shut down by school officials, the FBI reports that as many as 125,000 personal records may have been affected, a staggering number stretched over a significant span of time.

The college reports that it is “unable to determine if the information was actually stolen or simply accessed,” but remains on high alert.

Lessons Learned

A few things ought to be clear from these two security breaches:

  • No one is safe, but preparation helps: data breaches affect a wide number of people over a wide variety of locations. Though these kinds of attacks happen often, preparedness is a good way to reduce your business’ value as a target.
  • Simple document and data destruction isn’t always enough: as both these stories show, office-shredding your documents before you throw them out isn’t enough — keeping them safe while they are in your possession, whether physically or digitally, is critical to maintaining security.
  • Security should always be a top priority: no matter what, security absolutely needs to take precedent over other, less important issues — after all, the important issues won’t matter at all if you don’t keep your customers’ personal information safe.

Luckily, Datashield can help your business, no matter the size, with all of the issues above. With services ranging from compliance consulting to document and data destruction, we have all of your bases covered. For more information on how we can help keep your business’ important information safe, contact us today.

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