- The best pet insurance for dogs can increase cyber security.
- Data breach exposes more than 56,000 pet records, exposing cybersecurity risks
- Pet medical and microchip data highlight risks to pet safety.
Cybersecurity is now so severe that even pets are not safe. In a world where digital data breaches are becoming increasingly common, affecting financial institutions, healthcare records and personal identities, it seems that cyber threats are now extending to our four-legged friends. is spread. And so it may be that the best pet insurance for dogs increases cybersecurity.
Not long ago, the idea of pets messing around with high-tech gadgets was pure science fiction. Now, it’s a different story – 83% of pet owners in North America and Europe have jumped on the pet tech bandwagon. The Wall Street Journal.
Does this tech invasion make our beloved friends (and us) more vulnerable to cyber threats?
Sadly, it does. Connectivity means vulnerability.
Cybersecurity researcher Jeremiah Fowlers A recent discovery A major data breach highlights this new aspect of digital security. The recent breach, which involved an unsecured database containing more than 56,000 records, exposed not only owner data but also pet medical records, DNA test results, and detailed pedigrees. Includes history.
The impact of a data breach on pets and their insurance
Fowler’s discovery was surprising because it included records of thousands of dogs and information about their owners from around the world. The publicly accessible database on cloud storage contains 56,624 documents in PDF, .png, and .jpg formats, amounting to 25 GB. Their investigation revealed that the database was linked to the Worldwide Australian Labradoodle Association (WALA). This international organization advocates for the Australian Labradoodle breed and maintains high standards in breeding practices, if not cyber hygiene.
Thanks to WALA’s global presence (its headquarters are in Washington state, USA, and it has regional offices on several continents), Fowler’s discovery included documents from different countries in the database. He immediately sent a responsible disclosure notice to WALA, but the database was archived only a few days later.
WALA, according to its website, focuses on uniting Australian Labradoodle breeders globally to ensure high breeding standards and establishing a detailed and accurate database to preserve pedigree and health information. Makes sure. The documents exposed in the breach were comprehensive, including the dogs’ medical reports and DNA tests, their pedigrees showing pedigree details, and information about the dogs’ owners, veterinarians and testing laboratories. Information included. The data included names, addresses, contact numbers and email addresses, among other details.
The breach highlighted the often-overlooked implications of pets. Medical data Violations in a sector where, as reported by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), a significant portion of American households own pets and spend substantial amounts of money annually on pet-related expenses. .
Growing Concerns: Pet Insurance Fraud and Microchip Risks
The breach also raised concerns about the risk of pet insurance fraud. Given that the best pet insurance policies for dogs cover many scenarios, from accidents to routine maintenance, exposure of such sensitive information could potentially be exploited for fraudulent insurance claims. can Historical trends have shown a significant increase in pet insurance fraud, especially between 2010-2015. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association’s 2022 report details a significant number of insured pets and substantial amounts of premiums paid. Current data on Prevalence of fraud Not publicly available in this sector.
An additional risk factor identified in the recent breach was the exposure of pet microchip numbers. Microchips help identify and recover lost pets, and unauthorized disclosures with owner details, pose potential risks. Criminals can misuse this information, falsely claiming ownership of lost or stolen pets, including certain breeds, Labradoodles, given their high value.
Beyond the threat of pet theft, there are concerns about social engineering tactics where criminals can impersonate authority figures to obtain personal and financial information from pet owners, leading to fraud or Identity theft happens.
Fowler stressed the importance of maintaining the privacy of pet microchip numbers and being vigilant about requests for related information. He advised pet owners to verify the identity of anyone asking for such details and to report any suspicious activity to the relevant microchip registry and local authorities. The exposed database underscores the need for robust data security measures and highlights the diverse and often unpredictable implications of data breaches.
Protection against data breaches and scams
The “puppy scam” phenomenon involves various fraudulent activities associated with the sale of puppies, often involving the advertising of non-existent or misrepresented ‘pedigree’ puppies. A common scam is “breeder identity theft,” where fraudsters impersonate legitimate breeders to defraud buyers. Such scams consist of advertisements on classifieds websites or social media. Buyers should exercise caution and verify the identity and legitimacy of any breeder’s credentials. Buyers should be wary of sellers who offer high-value pedigree dogs at curiously low prices and avoid making payments or wire transfers without verifying the animal’s authenticity.
The leak of the WALA database, which includes extensive pet health records and breeder information, presents a potential threat if criminals exploit and falsely claim ownership or breeding rights to specific dogs. The scope of access to records by unauthorized parties remains unclear. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in the United States reports that pet scams make up 24% of online scams in their 2021 Scam Tracker.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that less than 10% of scam victims report incidents, so the number of victims could be significantly higher. In 2022, Australians reported losing more than AU$3.5 million to pet-related scams, and the UK saw a 39% increase in such scams from 2020 to 2021, with average losses of around £1,400.
The duration of exposure of the WALA database and the extent of access by unauthorized persons are unknown. There is no direct claim that criminals have accessed the exposed documents so there is no significant fraud risk. Likewise, there is no allegation of relevant misconduct on the part of WALA or that its members have faced any direct threat. The focus here is on highlighting the potential risks associated with any data breach, particularly those that may jeopardize the privacy and security of individuals or organizations in such databases.
This event not only highlights the broad implications of cybersecurity in our daily lives, but also serves as a reminder that virtually any aspect of our lives, even our pets’ information, can be cyber-attacked. Not immune to threats.
So it may well be that the best pet insurance for dogs is simply robust cybersecurity.