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The Growing Problem of Identity Theft—Part 1: The DISH Affair

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We’ve all heard about the computers of various companies being hacked. One of the latest to be hit is the Dish Network. Hackers disabled the company’s computer system causing chaos for customers, including the possibility that the perpetrators might have stolen their personal information.

Rear view of hacker using computers to steal data in office

How hackers work

There are various ways for a computer hacker to access information. He can remotely scan the server and exploit any vulnerabilities by sending a command that will cause the app to crash. The perpetrator can gain entry to a computer system with the help of an unsuspecting person who uses a USB key infected with malware. It is also fairly easy for a hacker to steal someone’s username and password to login remotely to a corporate computer system. Alternatively, the hacker can send an email asking for the recipient to reset his or her password. Once the target clicks on the link in the email and enters a password to change, the hacker obtains the password and can use it to log into the computer system.

Long-term problems

Computer hackers are insidious individuals and customers pay the price when cyberattacks occur in a company they do business with. More than six weeks after hackers got into the computer systems of the Dish Network, customers were still dealing with the consequences. Dish, Sling TV and Boost Mobile subscribers could not pay bills, cancel services or watch streaming programs. Although Dish claimed to have restored many of the systems hit by the cyberattack, customers needing service still had to endure wait times of up to 14 hours.

Learning to cope

Key and a note on a wooden table with text - Protect Your Identity

When customers on the wrong end of a data breach try to find help for their stolen information, they discover it can be tough sledding. But here are a few tips to keep from becoming the victim of a cyberattack:

·    Key an eye on your accounts. If you are a Dish customer, for example, assume that the hackers who accessed the systems probably have your personal information. When you receive a text, an invoice, or a notice about services you didn’t order, be careful: someone out there may be impersonating you.

·    Read your credit reports for tips about anyone using your stolen information to open bank accounts, for example, or make purchases in your name.

·    Change passwords; don’t reuse passwords for multiple accounts.

·    If you’re recovering from a cyberattack, keep records of your communications with the affected company. For unsolved issues, you can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or even with the Federal Communications Commission, the agency responsible for TV and phone company oversight.

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