Why is our (Digital Death) Data Valuable to Hackers?

Sep-02 2020

This article is provided by GoodTrust - your trusted digital legacy advisor. Learn more about GoodTrust here.

According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, every 39 seconds a hacker attack takes place.

Before GoodTrust came into existence we did multiple deep dives into why protecting your digital legacy was so important and why no one was currently doing it. Through this intensive research we found that the main obstacle for someone taking action to secure their loved one’s digital legacy is inertia. The tendency to do nothing. When a loved one dies most people will do absolutely nothing to protect that person’s digital assets, and over 90% of people have no idea what the consequences of this even are. Among losing precious photos, documents, and memories stored in the cloud, cybersecurity risks are by far one of the most dangerous consequences of this bad habit. Through reading this article you’ll learn why this is.

Yahoo. Uber. Equifax. Under Armour. These are just a few of the most publicized data breaches where millions of user accounts and data were stolen. This number could have been much larger but due to the systems in place that protect us from cyber attacks, some accounts were saved. Some of these systems include (1) immediately contacting the account owner asking them to report the possible attack and change their password and (2) simply shutting down the account for a set amount of time so as to give the account owner time to log in, prompting a notification to update their information. While these systems vary depending on the company and the sensitivity of the information stored within the account, what these all have in common is that they are useless in the event that you die. When you are no longer around to manage your accounts, there’s no one there to check your notifications, which means there’s no one there to report your account being hacked or your identity being stolen. This is a hacker’s paradise. 

 Affirmed by the DEATH.io team, “There’s a whole lot more to sell on the marketplace if the person you’ve hacked used to be a real person, who created real-life relationships, interactions and data.” So by hacking the account of a deceased person, they not only get your information but they can potentially take advantage of the people you’ve built relationships with through the site. Just imagine your old friends from high school you haven’t spoken to in decades that don’t know you’ve passed, getting a heartfelt message from your account remarking that you’re going through hard times and are in need of money. It’s as easy as that. Thousands of schemes just like this happen everyday all over the world as result of the mismanagement of our numerous digital accounts. We’d all love to say “This would never happen to me” or “My friends and family would never fall for that”, but the fact of the matter is, it’s still happening and it’s going to continue happening as we accumulate more digital accounts and more data to be stolen.

Now I can’t lie and say if you do this one thing this will never happen to you, because as much as we may not like it, security breaches can happen to anyone no matter what you do. Technology has its flaws the same as us. Nevertheless this doesn’t mean there aren’t actions we can take to mitigate the risk of our own identity being stolen or that of our loved ones after our passing. If you’re interested in reading about what you can do today to stop this from happening, take a look at our “Top 3 Steps on Your Digital Death To-Do List” article here.

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