Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

It’s the season for taking stock and being grateful, and I am so ready. I am all set for a seasonal reflection, family gatherings, decking halls and whatnot, but given the late breaking headlines, we have to make a small detour first – to cyber crime.

Obviously, I would prefer to not have my identity stolen. I’ve heard the nightmares of massive debt and ruined lives. However, I would also really prefer to not have to talk about it, or even think about it.

But here we are, all of us, smack in the center of a massive data breach, and it appears that part of being a grown-up is talking about the stuff you’d rather not. Ugh. Fine.

According to the state, as many as 1.3 million people (and with a population of about 1.35 million total, that’s pretty much all of us) have had their sensitive personal information “compromised” as part of a massive information theft perpetrated by ransomware hackers. Other sources identify the criminals as Russian.

Great. It’s like we are living a poorly written paperback thriller from 1992.

Mostly, I’m annoyed. Annoyed that my safety, and yours, has been jeopardized by what feels like the whims of this modern age. I do not live a lavish life, but I like it. I am annoyed that it has been endangered by someone else’s cyber carelessness. I realize that is not an entirely fair or accurate assessment – but that’s how it feels.


Then there is the issue of how information about the theft was handled.

According to the official website ( MOVEit Global Security Incident), prior to making it public knowledge, the state “carried out an extensive evaluation” of the situation. OK, sure. That is actually understandable, and even commendable, but we are hearing about it now, and the data breach took place at the end of May.

Five and a half months seems like an awfully long time to wait before telling people they need to haul up the drawbridge to their personal finances. No?

Methinks an extensive evaluation of the thought process behind that decision and a review of the implications of the delay is necessary as well. Later though, once the damage is contained.

In the immediate, everyone is encouraged to get busy closing barn doors, even if it seems like the horses might be long gone. I sound cynical. I know. But honestly, take what steps you can.

There is a hotline. Folks are encouraged to call 877-618-3659 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday to learn what, if any, of your own information was in fact acquired by hackers. Depending on the circumstances, you might then qualify for a free credit watch – which seems like an important thing to have.


In addition, a quick search of financial sites (I found helpful) reveals that most experts agree it is a good idea for everyone to freeze their credit reports. A freeze prevents someone else, even if they have your Social Security number, from applying for credit in your name.

Placing a freeze is free, totally reversible and fairly easy. I went ahead and filed with all five agencies suggested by NerdWallet: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, Innovis and the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange. It was not hard. The biggest issue I faced was waiting for the security codes to make it to me via text thanks to the sketchy signal in the woods where I live. If I can do it, pretty much anyone can.

I am so sorry this happened to us. I hope nothing bad happens to you and yours as a result. Make the calls, secure what you can, then get back to the important business of life and take a walk in our beautiful woods, counting the blessings of the season as you go.

See you on the flip side of all this nonsense. Preferably with pie in hand.

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