Large data losses in the energy industry and how to safeguard information going forward

Customers may be careful about giving out their personal information over the phone or the Internet, but that doesn’t necessarily protect them from identity theft. This is especially the case when you’re dealing with the energy industry. After all, homeowners and businesses have to pay their utility bills.

The good news is that major security breaches are rare. In fact, we can only find three instances of big data losses for the energy industry from 2005 to the present. Additionally, for the breaches that did occur, nobody’s personal information was compromised. Nevertheless, we don’t take security lightly at eFileCabinet.

GS Caltex and the Stolen Discs

GS Caltex is one of the nation’s largest oil refineries. In 2008, GS Caltex had to deal with a huge potential leak of personal data for over 11 million customers.

Two discs that were believed to be thrown away were found. One DVD contained 76 files including the Social Security numbers, email addresses, names, cell phone numbers, work numbers, and workplaces of customers sorted by age. One CD contained a sampling of that same information.

Investigations concluded that the data on the discs was from the membership information collected for bonus cards that are issued at gas stations. The bonus cards are only used for discounts and do not contain any credit card or bank account information.

There has been no reporting of identity theft or misuse of data as a result of this discovery; however, the sheer number of potentially affected customer accounts made this instance stand out above others.

New York State Electric & Gas and Unauthorized Access

Even if a company takes all necessary precautions for cybersecurity, there is always a potential for things to go awry. In 2012, New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) advised their customers of unauthorized access to their personal information.

An employee of an independent software consulting firm allowed unauthorized access to one of the companies’ customer information system. It’s unclear whether this was just a coder asking a buddy to help, but there was certainly no evidence that data had been misused or that there was any malicious intent.

Unfortunately, the result was that 1.8 million customers may have had their information compromised. The customer records in question included Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and in some cases financial information.

To reassure its customers, NYSEG arranged for Experian to provide customers with a free year of credit monitoring. However, NYSEG never named the independent firm responsible for the breach.

Central Hudson and the Cyber Hack

In 2012, Central Hudson’s system was infiltrated with malware that lay dormant until the beginning of 2013. On February 19, 2013 the infiltration was discovered and disabled by Central Hudson employees.

The malware was designed to seek out and export information. Banking information seems to have been the target, but it is still unclear whether any information was ever transferred. The malware was designed to transfer the front of the check, which contains routing numbers and bank account numbers, as well as personally identifiable information with names and addresses.

As a consequence, Central Hudson arranged for its customers to enroll in free Experian credit monitoring services in addition to evaluating and updating their cybersecurity strategy. However, this was only done for peace of mind as Central Hudson doesn’t know for sure whether any information was actually accessed or misused.

eFileCabinet and Cybersecurity

Whenever you read about security breaches, it’s difficult not to worry about online file storage and file sharing. But the truth is that your files are still more secure in the Cloud than they are at your office. The reason is that it’s a lot more difficult to hack into your online account and view sensitive files than it is to steal physical discs containing data from your office.

As you can see in the above example, even when customer information is potentially compromised, there isn’t always any evidence of misuse. But that doesn’t mean companies can relax their vigilance on behalf of customers.

We Encrypt Your Files

At eFileCabinet, we take security seriously. Not only do we protect your accounts from unauthorized access with password protection, but we also encrypt any files that you share with others. After all, if your documents are important enough to be saved with eFileCabinet, they’re important enough to be encrypted each time you view them.

eFileCabinet Keeps Documents Accessible

Keeping your files secure is one of the things we do well at eFileCabinet. But we also keep your documents easily accessible. You can safely view your files from your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Fill out the form on this page to watch our free 15-minute demo, and if you have any questions about cybersecurity, give us a call or chat with us. We are here to help keep your documents secure.

By | 2016-12-15T11:58:57+00:00 December 28th, 2015|
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