The Atlantic

The Banality of the Equifax Breach

With over half of the entire U.S. adult population potentially exposed, what’s left to do but shrug and sigh?
Source: Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Consumer data breaches have become so frequent, the anger and worry once associated with them has turned to apathy. So when Equifax revealed late Thursday that a breach exposed personal data, including social-security numbers, for 143 million Americans, public shock was diluted by resignation.

There are reasons for the increased prevalence and severity of these breaches. More data is being collected and stored, for one, as more people use more connected services. Corporate cybersecurity policy is lax, for another, and sensitive data isn’t sufficiently protected. Websites and apps, which are demanded by consumers the attitude of civil service that might treat security as a first-order design problem. And hacking and data theft have risen in popularity and benefit, both as an illicit business affair and as a new kind of cold warfare.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic10 min readSociety
Tracing the Internal Queer Revolution
Riots and parades have made LGBTQ people visible. But a new anthology of writings from before, during, and after Stonewall shows the inward changes as more essential.
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
Joe Biden Won’t Say If He Backs the Trade Deal He Helped Sell
The Atlantic surveyed the Democratic presidential candidates on whether they support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Only some took a definitive position.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
America’s Free-Rider Problem In The Strait Of Hormuz
“The United States has not been willing to walk away from the Gulf, so other allies may not step up to do anything because they know that if they don’t, the U.S. will.”