Tech

You Get a Data Breach and YOU Get a Data Breach!

MyFitnessPal is just one in a growing list of companies who have been breached recently.
MyFitnessPal is just one in a growing list of companies who have been breached recently. Screenshot
It seems like every time you zip through the news online, there is a story about another data breach affecting potentially millions of people's personal and financial information. Most of us know about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica's data mining that has gotten the social media giant in hot water. But, there are numerous others as well.

MyFitnessPal, owned by Under Armour, had its username and password information taken. They encouraged changing passwords on their service as well as any other service where you used the same password, which is a good reason never to reuse passwords (you probably will anyway, but you've been warned).

Then, there are Kmart and a host of retailers including luxury stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. They had credit card data hacked, which considering the sources, could be pretty substantial. On the other end of the spectrum is Forever 21, who had a breach relating to cash registers that may have lasted nearly all of 2017 and could have included credit card information. Club gear purchasers beware. Even Kmart, who no longer has stores in Houston, said it had credit card information stolen at some point in 2017.

Restaurants aren't immune to breaches either. Panera, the purveyor of "healthy" sandwiches, had a breach of personal data on their website, which makes us wonder: Why does Panera have your personal information unless you are the one who orders boxed lunches for work events? Sonic, most famous for slushies and those ads with those two guys who no one knows but still chuckles at them anyway, reported that as many as 5 million credit card numbers could have been stolen from them. And Arby's, who has the meats but apparently not the securitys, ran into malware issues that exposed credit cards to theft.

And if you still haven't been touched by anything above, there is Whole Foods. If you ate at one of their in-store restaurants or drank at a "tap room" (yes, Whole Foods has these, sigh), you may have lost more than your sense of dignity when you paid for that local microbrew with the organically-grown hops.

Finally, nerds, you aren't safe either. GameStop had their online store hacked including personal information and, yes, credit cards. You would think they would have some World of Warcraft-level security, but alas, not.

The bottom line is we are all vulnerable to stolen data, whether you are a rich white lady; a nerdy 30-year-old living with your parents; a junk food or organic food eater, or someone who pretends Panera is good for them; someone who works out or someone who buys clothes that are 20 years too young for them. We're all at risk, people. If Facebook didn't teach you that, maybe this will.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke