Following a nationwide cyberattack targeting the UC system and hundreds of other organizations, a panel of experts discussed identity theft protection and resources at a UC Berkeley town hall Thursday.
Titled “Identity Theft Protection Town Hall,” the event was moderated by Jenn Stringer, campus associate vice chancellor for IT and chief information officer, in response to the recent cyberattack that released personal information of UC employees and students to the public.
While details on the incident were not addressed during the event, three expert panelists discussed the basics of identity theft, methods for prevention and Experian — a company that offers free credit monitoring and protects identity information.
“The goal of this town hall is really to provide you all with information on how to take advantage of credit and identity monitoring services so that all members of our UC community can protect themselves from potential harm,” Stringer said during the event.
Anthony Joseph, campus cyber-risk responsible executive and chancellor’s professor in electrical engineering and computer sciences, said identity theft can cause significant financial loss and criminal behavior to occur under an individual’s name.
Joseph added that individuals must take notice of warning signs such as suspicious activity on accounts and medical statements, missing bills and notices from the IRS or California Department of Revenue, among others, to prevent identity theft.
“Identity thieves can cause a lot of damage and cost you time, money and patience to repair and recover from an identity theft,” Joseph said during the event. “We all have to be alert.”
Campus privacy officer Scott Seaborn said monitoring credit history, the record of repayment and borrowing activity on an account, is particularly crucial in recognizing identity theft.
Allison Henry, campus chief information security officer, agreed and emphasized that signing up for Experian allows individuals to monitor their credit histories for any unauthorized activity. As part of an offer from the UC Office of the President, UC community members can use an enrollment code to sign up and access free credit history reports every day, she added.
Experian also checks if an individual’s identity information is available on the dark web, sends alerts about suspicious credit activity and provides restoration services for victims of identity theft, according to Henry.
Henry closed the meeting by discussing how individuals can increase security on their accounts to prevent identity theft.
She encouraged individuals to change their CalNet account passwords, particularly in light of the cyberattack, and utilize different passwords for each account they own. Opting in for additional security beyond passwords such as two-step verifications can also prevent identity theft, Henry added.
“We all need to be vigilant about monitoring our credit, protecting our personal information and taking these actions that we talked about because the risk only increases with time,” Henry said during the event.