An Entire Country Has Been Hacked—and So Have You

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted July 22, 2019

Imagine all of your personal information—your name, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, home address, your income-tax information … every last bit of it—being stolen from the government itself and made available online.

Blogger and political analyst Asen Genov, who lives and works in Bulgaria, doesn’t have to imagine it. Neither do five million of his neighbors, which CNN reports is “just about every working adult” in the central European nation.

That’s because hackers got into the computer network of the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency—the country’s tax collectors—and scooped up the data. It’s now on the open market, and Genov found his own files online.

“These kinds of incidents should not happen in a state institution. It seems like it didn’t require huge efforts, and it’s probably [exposed] the personal data of almost all Bulgarian citizens,” attorney Desislava Krusteva, a partner at Dimitrov, Petrov & Co., a law firm in Sofia, told the news service. Krusteva specializes in privacy and data protection issues, advising “some of the world’s biggest tech companies,” CNN said.

Genov is steaming, and rightfully so: “We should all be angry. ... The information is now freely available to anyone. Many, many people in Bulgaria already have this file, and I believe that it’s not only in Bulgaria,” he told a CNN reporter.

Identity Theft Costs Billions

The theft of personal information is costly, and it can turn a person’s life upside down. In the United States, the Insurance Information Institute reported: “The amount stolen hit $16.8 billion [in 2018] as 30 percent of U.S. consumers were notified of exposure to a data breach last year, an increase of 12 percent from 2016. For the first time, more Social Security numbers were exposed than credit card numbers.”

And instead of stealing one of your credit card numbers, cyberthieves are turning to your personal information, using it to open new credit accounts and sticking you with the bill—or the identity theft damage. “New account fraud occurs when a thief opens a credit card or other financial account using a victim’s name and other stolen personal information. According to the Javelin [Strategy & Research group] study, account takeovers tripled in 2017 from 2016, and losses totaled $5.1 billion,” the Insurance Information Institute announcement said.

Such cyberattacks are hardly new. As CNN reported, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs saw its files breached in 2006, with the records of 26 million veterans and military personnel exposed to the hackers.

“And it was all, ‘Oh, this is dreadful. We must do things to stop it.’ ... And here we are, 13 years later, and an entire country’s data has been compromised, and in between, there’s been incidents of large swathes of citizen data being compromised in different countries,” IT security expert Gary Bunker told CNN.

What can you do to protect yourself? Vigilance is key, and many people in the United States subscribe to services that monitor credit activity and flag suspicious account openings or transactions. It costs nothing for a consumer to “freeze” their credit file—and those of their minor children, whose identities can also be stolen—thanks to a 2018 law now enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Doing this will help prevent fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name, or that of a family member.

Everyone Has Been “Hacked”

But the sad fact of the matter is that it’s not only Bulgaria, or the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, that’s been hacked. This entire world has been hacked, and the true identity of everyone who has ever lived, or ever shall live, has been stolen.

You can read about this in the very first book of the Bible. Genesis 3:1–24 tells us how our first parents were deceived by Satan. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their identity as children of God, destined to live forever in paradise. (Spoiler alert: Had they not sinned, we all would live in that garden too!)

This “hack” was far more insidious and far more harmful than the theft of identifying data. Instead of just losing one’s credit standing—something that can be fixed, albeit often with a great deal of effort—we lost our eternal “good credit” in God’s eyes. We’re all sinners, and as the Bible explains, a penalty must be paid for sin.

That penalty, of course, can be paid in one of two ways: It can be paid by each of us, or it can be covered by Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross. Romans 6:23 is clear: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If we accept that gift, and it’s something each person must do for themselves, then our eternal life is restored. If we decline, we’ll receive our “wages”—specifically, death for all eternity. As Pastor Doug Batchelor pointed out not too long ago, these are our “Only Two Options,” and every day we make choices that lead us in one of those directions!

Our free online Bible study “Get to Know Jesus” will give you the answers you need to make sure of your relationship with God, and that you’ll escape the punishment awaiting those who do not recover their stolen identities as His children. For an even more in-depth approach, check out “Saved from Certain Death,” another free Bible study also available online.

Yes, everyone who has ever lived, or ever shall live, has been “hacked,” and there’s no way to prevent Satan’s “identity theft” in our lives. But it can be reversed, the key is in your Bible, and the solution is available free of charge!

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