You don’t own your personal identity

Hackers have proven yet again that we will never be safe. 

If you have OSAP, a credit card or any sort of loan, you will likely have your identity stolen in the future. If you’re a member of CAA, have obtained a payment plan for a computer or are unfortunate enough to be American, it’s likely already gone, along with over half of everyone in the USA.  

Equifax, one of three companies entrusted with your most sensitive information and paid to track all of your financial activity, has demonstrated that even the most cautious of us are only as safe as the least cautious gatekeeper. Their safeguards fell over this past summer, and almost 150 million identities and financial histories were spouted into the hands of an unknown entity, but we only heard about it recently. In that time, credit could have been applied for in your name – destroying your credit score and potentially drowning you in debt. 

I could blame the hackers. These degenerates, either motivated by the all-mighty dollar or something more subversive, have shaken the foundations of civilization that 5,000 years of humankind have sought to build. However, they aren’t to blame. Another group of degenerates, dressed in suits and designated as trustworthy stakeholders of Equifax, left some of the most precious and vulnerable information out for anyone to take, and it’s the banks of the world who allowed this to happen. 

The idea seemed simple; competing companies track all credit-based activity so banks will have an excuse to charge greater interest rates. Then basic business principles came into play. A company must primarily concern themselves with the bottom line by maximizing profits and minimizing expenses. One such forgone expense was the safeguard that would have prevented this catastrophe: fixing a website vulnerability that was brought to Equifax’s attention nearly two months before the first cyber attack in May. The results were clear. 

Your life may be ruined, and millions of others are already permanently altered because a company skimped on its protection. To elaborate, Equifax was contacted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in March regarding a tool meant to let customers access their profiles that incidentally could also allow hackers to seize complete control over the website – allowing access to a wealth of private information. Equifax claimed to have attempted to fix this issue, but the website was utilized by hackers several times from May until July. Despite having been informed five months prior, Equifax’s cheap security team didn’t notice any of this activity until July 29. 

So where does this leave us? We know that Russia, China and an alliance of non-aligned groups form an army of hackers constantly scaling the cyberspace walls to our North American kingdom. We know that hackers have breached the innermost sanctums of our society. We know that if any one of them truly wanted to ruin your life, they could. That doesn’t bother me. I have made peace with the fact that my entire life could crumble in an instant. 

No, what curdles my bile and boils my blood is that our gatekeepers had stolen our identities long before these hackers ever did. This information was not accessed a couple of weeks ago; it was accessed months ago, but Equifax did not bother informing the public about the breach until September. Had they informed us immediately, we could have taken reasonable precautions, yet whoever hacked this information has been able to do whatever they intended to do with it during this time. Equifax demonstrated with this action that our identities have always been their property to sit on – to make money on – and they don’t care about us.  

Plus, they further showcased this by pouring salt on the wound. Instead of true damage control, Equifax proceeded to offer ‘free credit watching’ that would turn into a paid subscription after one year; they handed out fish hooks that they intend to reel in. The average consumer has always just been a statistic to them. In the eyes of the greedy, we are more money, and our governments allow this to go on. No private company should have ever been given this much control. 

So, hackers, I thank you. You have proven that our identities will never be safe. You have verified concerns that our system – the almighty capitalism run by the golden cogs of banks – is a corrupt illusion of safety. You can have our identities when you want them. They were never truly ours to begin with, and they are protected by buffoons. 

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