I've said this before, and I'll say it again: These breaches will keep happening, no matter how many great minds are put to the task of preventing them. Why? Because there are just as many great minds--albeit twisted great minds--that are hell-bent on getting to the data. Just as sure as Americans will get drunk in large numbers on New Year's Eve, some household name will find itself in the news in January for losing or just not adequately protecting sensitive customer data. That you can bet on.
But there are things consumers can do to prevent their exposure to such incidents from growing. For starters, they can stop signing up for every loyalty program under the sun, a move that would not only reduce their chances of falling victim to identity theft, but would also free up some space in their over-crowded wallets. They can stop buying stuff online. They can stop using credit cards for every purchase and live within their means by relying solely on cash. And they can stop allowing themselves to be duped by the growing legions of phishers who are out to trick them into willingly handing over the keys to their financial resources with the aid of nothing more than a deceptive E-mail.
Granted, given how far we've traveled down the road to the Internet Age, this is all about as likely as Shakespeare nudging Britney Spears off those lists of the year's most popular search terms. Most of us have become habituated to using the Web to buy stuff and pay bills. We've grown accustomed to providing personal information in exchange for a loyalty card that will get us half off our next case of soda. And we've gotten really comfortable with the idea that we don't have to carry cash if we've got our Visa check card with us. But such convenience comes with a price. The question I keep coming back to is, when will we all wake up and decide that price is too high?