IRS Posts Tens of Thousands of Social Security Numbers on a Government Site; Privacy4Patriots Responds with Plea to Protect Privacy Rights

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Another security breach, this one exposing tens of thousands of Americans’ Social Security numbers, has been reported. Privacy4Patriots recommends using different passwords for a variety of accounts.

Privacy4Patriots, the publisher of an upcoming report on how to protect one’s privacy, strongly recommends using a different password for every account.

As reported by Fox News and other media outlets, the Internal Revenue Service inadvertently posted the Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of Americans last week. The numbers were posted to an IRS database for tax-exempt political groups.

The security breach was discovered by the group, whose founder, Carl Malamud, estimated that approximately 100,000 Social Security numbers were exposed. Malaud called for the White House to help fix the IRS’ “information management practices.” The IRS confirmed the breach and shut down the site.

This is the latest in a long series of security breaches that have involved many organizations, including Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple and others. Frequently it’s passwords that are compromised, and because hackers realize that some people use the same passwords for a variety of their accounts, they’ll utilize those recently-gained passwords to attempt to hack into other accounts.

Privacy4Patriots, the publisher of an upcoming report on how to protect one’s privacy, strongly recommends using a different password for every account.

Following are Privacy4Patriots’ 3 ways to thwart email hackers:

1.    Passwords. This is how a significant percentage of people get hacked. People use simple passwords and hackers take advantage of that with tools that will try the top 500 most commonly used words to get in. The main rule is, the longer and more complicated, the better. An email account is often the gateway to everything else in one’s life, so a password should be strong enough to bar the door. It’s recommended to use both upper and lower case letters, plus numbers and symbols. Also, it’s very important to use different passwords for different accounts. If hackers figure out a password to one account, they will try it on others.

2.    Security questions. Increasingly, scammers are conducting web research on people (on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), then going to common email services and clicking the “recover password” feature. Using information they’ve learned about from their research, such as people’s places of birth and the names of their pets, they sometimes reset passwords and freeze out account holders. To prevent this, it’s recommended to choose the most obscure and difficult security questions to answer, use fake answers to those questions, and make those answers very difficult to guess. Also, turn on all social media privacy settings.

3.    Be careful with email addresses. Handing an email address out to anyone and everyone can be an invitation to the bad guys. If people see that someone’s email address is (their name), for example, they know that the person has a Comcast account and may be able to hack it and gain billing information. When visiting a website that asks for an email address, use a disposable email address that can be acquired free of charge. An email address is a huge part of one’s identity, so it needs to be treated as such.

Check out this Patriot Headquarters blog post regarding three ways to encrypt your emails.

Patriot Headquarters publishes articles, videos and news to help patriots become more self-reliant and independent from government and big business.

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Frank Bates
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