Your ID number is online – Why that’s bad and what you can do

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South Africans this week learned that over 60 million ID numbers and other personal data had been online for anybody with a bit of technical know how to grab.

How long that information was available is unclear, as is who is currently in possession of this data.

At first the data – discovered by Troy Hunt – was believed to be tied to property given the data set was labelled as “masterdeeds”. This morning we discovered that the dataset also contained the records of 12.4 million minors.

South Africans are understandably concerned.

The trouble is that unlike a hack of an email service or social network a person can’t just change their ID number like they can change their passwords.

To find out how South Africans can mitigate the damage that has been done (if at all) we spoke to Keegan Ackerman, formerly a security consultant and currently an account manager at ESET South Africa.

Simply put with the amount of personal data floating around in cyberspace users need to now be vigilant. “Make sure that there is no identity theft happening and be scrutinous of the sorts of mails you are getting,” says Ackerman.

You can listen to our full interview with Ackerman below which includes why we absolutely need the POPI act to come into play and how to secure yourself moving forward.

Update 20/10

Shortly after this story was published the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa issued advice for South Africans that have been affected.

“Check whether your information has been used to apply for credit (e.g. loans). You can do this by applying for a free online credit check with one of the credit bureaus, like TransUnion,” said DMASA.

South Africans can also register with the South African Fraud Prevention Service if they have been compromised.

[Image – CC BY 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.