Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Sep 2017 23:45 UTC

Equifax Inc. today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company's investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

Names, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers - this is a very big breach.

Interestingly enough, three executives of the credit reporting agency sold their shares in the company days after the breach was discovered.

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Doc Pain
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In France you can vote, have insurance, open bank accounts without giving a number that is your single unique identifier.

There is a number on your ID card that nobody ever asks. Another number on your passport if you have one (only necessary if you travel out of Europe). You are not legally obliged to get any of these documents.

It's a liitle bit different in Germany: You are forced to "buy" an ID card ("Personalausweis", personal identification) for a relatively high price (compared to the actual costs of creating the ID card), and it has a built-in expiration date. If you do not have one, you'll be facing a quite heavy fine. After expiration, you may not keep the (invalidated) ID card. It also contains "online functionality" which doesn't actually work and is also insecure.

A passport ("ReisepaƟ", travel passport) is fully optional. It is more expensive than the ID card. In many cases, it can substitute the regular ID card, but often requires that you also have a registration card ("Meldebescheinigung", certificate of residence) because the passport doesn't contain your postal address. This additional document of course also costs some money.

However, revealing the identification numbers of those documents (which identify the document, not the person!) is typically not needed. Data protection and privacy laws provide strong regulations about what may be obtained and stored by private companies.

Another number for social security.

Correct, and it usually won't be used for anything else.

In Germany, also add a tax identification number which will be a "life-long companion" to any person. Again, this number will only be relevant for matters of taxes.

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