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Verizon Communications : Defusing the identity theft time bomb

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07/18/2018 | 09:52pm CEST

The unspoken web

So what becomes of stolen personal credentials? Most people know the 'surface web' - the part of the World Wide Web that is readily accessible and searchable to the general public. The less well-known part of the Internet is the dark web, which is only accessible through special browsers. It contains non-indexed, peer-to-peer, encrypted content that was originally designed to give a lot of protection to people like researchers, law enforcement professionals and even whistleblowers. Unfortunately, today, as with most useful platforms, it is also exploited by cyber criminals to host and trade volatile/stolen/confidential content.

The dark web hosts general marketplaces, just like a general store, but also specialty marketplaces - for example, stores selling stolen credentials, PII dumps, iPhones, malware, stolen payment-card dumps, drugs, medicines and other contraband, and even stores related to extortion and physical crimes. Thapar observes: 'Criminals almost never use the data they steal themselves due to the fear of being traced. They sell it to other criminals or syndicates on the dark web, who in turn monetize the stolen data through several layers of anonymity. Your personal data can enable a criminal to, for example, apply for a credit card, credit line or a loan; register a vehicle; apply for a mobile phone or make false insurance claims - all in your name. And you might know nothing at all about it for months.'

Prevention is better than cure

After investigating more than 2000 confirmed data breaches, the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) has revealed that 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover, even though 87 percent of the breaches examined had data compromised within minutes or less of the attack taking place. Crucially, it also flags a shift in how social attacks, such as financial pretexting and phishing, are being used, which infiltrate organizations via employees. These are now increasingly a departmental issue, with Human Resource (HR) departments across multiple verticals now being targeted in a bid to extract employee wage and tax data, so criminals can commit tax fraud and divert tax rebates.

Thapar gives seven steps that organizations should undertake to help protect themselves against data breaches:

  1. Stay vigilant - log files and change management systems can give you early warning of a breach
  2. Make people your first line of defense - train staff to spot the warning signs
  3. Keep data on a 'need to know' basis - only employees that need access to systems to do their jobs should have it
  4. Patch promptly - this could guard against many attacks
  5. Encrypt sensitive data - make your data next to useless if it is stolen
  6. Use two-factor authentication - this can limit the damage that can be done with lost or stolen credentials
  7. Don't forget physical security - not all data theft happens online

What can individuals do?

When a company is breached, executives can turn to a myriad of consultants and service providers to help them overcome risk and reputational challenges. But when an individual's personal online information has been compromised, they're often left to fend for themselves. Thapar advises in particular being mindful of what information is shared online, and what consent - whether implicit or explicit - you give to an organization. He also advises against using the same passwords across different websites - tempting as that can be! - and enabling two-factor authentication whenever this is available. Finally, he suggests considering personal cyber insurance, which is specifically designed to protect individuals against online threats to their personal computer network, hardware, IT and communication systems.

If the worst happens, and you find out that your personal credentials have been compromised, here's what Thapar advises you should do next:

  1. Enable credit monitoring/identity theft protection services and place a fruad alert on your credit reports
  2. Review access activity to your online accounts and review credit reports
  3. Consider enabling an extended fraud alert or a security/credit freeze on your credit file
  4. Notifty all relevant institutions and close all fraudulent accounts/lines of credit that may have been opened using your identity
  5. Make a police complaint if the information stolen was issued/maintained by a government entity and request a replacement ID
  6. Change your passwords/secret questions on all websites/portals; activate multi-factor authentication wherever possible
  7. Put out a fruad alert with your local in-country credit bureau

Thapar concludes: 'In a perfect world, cybercrime wouldn't exist. Unfortunately, today's world is far from perfect, and it's a growing threat. But if organizations AND individuals all work together, we can help to minimize its impact.'

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York City, generated $126 billion in 2017 revenues. The company operates America's most reliable wireless network and the nation's premier all-fiber network, and delivers integrated solutions to businesses worldwide. Its Oath subsidiary reaches about one billion people around the world with a dynamic house of media and technology brands.


Verizon Communications Inc. published this content on 18 July 2018 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 18 July 2018 19:51:05 UTC

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Financials ($)
Sales 2018 130 B
EBIT 2018 29 997 M
Net income 2018 18 641 M
Debt 2018 111 B
Yield 2018 4,64%
P/E ratio 2018 11,45
P/E ratio 2019 11,01
EV / Sales 2018 2,50x
EV / Sales 2019 2,41x
Capitalization 213 B
Duration : Period :
Verizon Communications Technical Analysis Chart | VZ | US92343V1044 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 29
Average target price 56,0 $
Spread / Average Target 8,9%
EPS Revisions
Lowell C. McAdam Executive Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Matthew D. Ellis Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Hans Erik Vestberg CTO, President-Global Networks & Executive VP
Clarence Otis Independent Director
Richard L. Carrión Independent Director
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