Americans Now Live in a Hacked World


A rash of recent hack attacks prove that no data is completely safe online anymore. Hackers have begun to take over online systems everywhere, targeting personal, corporate, and even highly sensitive government data. The reality: Americans suddenly live in a hacked world and have to face the consequences.

In the last day, Citigroup (C) admitted that 360,000 credit card records had been broken into online, more than was originally suspected when the banking giant announced the initial problem two weeks ago.

But Citigroup is not alone. ADP, the largest provider of payroll services in the U.S., announced this week that its computer system had been hacked. It is staggering to think what hackers could do with the payroll data for millions of workers, or whether money could actually be taken out of payroll accounts. The CIA website was also hacked Wednesday by a group which calls itself Lulz Security. If the CIA site is not safe, what sites are?

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These hacks, which are only likely to increase in number, leave Americans with the question of how much of their information they want online. Some data, like bank account information, cannot be hidden unless customers want to take their cash and put it into safes. But, people routinely give credit card data to sites like Amazon (AMZN), give health data to doctors who keep it online, and keep information about themselves on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn which is only meant to be shared with friends.

It appears that people will need to accept the fact that data about themselves, their private lives, and their finances will be at greater risk as sophisticated hackers take down more and more security systems. Each time there is a new breach, it is clear that even the most sophisticated security software is inadequate.

The consumer and the person who keeps parts of his or her identity online is now in a universe of risk that did not exist a years ago. Unfortunately, there is nothing to change that world back to what it was, at least not in the foreseeable future.

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