Sony PicturesThings aren’t getting better for Sony Pictures following an unprecedented attack that began on Nov. 24 and keeps growing, as more stolen data is publicly released. According to the Wall Street Journal, a whopping 47,000 social security numbers were exposed in this attack, including those of a number of celebrities such as Rebel Wilson and Sylvester Stallone. Many of these social security numbers were included with employee tax records, obtained during the data wipe. Rapper Nicki Minaj recently learned what can happen when your social security number is exposed — when hers was accidentally displayed publicly, the high number of inquiries on her credit caused her credit score to drop by more than 100 points. An identity thief in possession of your social security number can wreak havoc on your life. Even those at the very top at Sony aren’t safe — CEO Michael Lynton’s credit card details were made available among the documents released. This information is currently being traded across the Internet, through torrent websites and other black market spaces.

Sony employees are not the only ones affected

In addition to thousands upon thousands of business and personal files belonging to Sony employees, a document containing the salary information for more than 30,000 employees at auditing firm Deloitte was stolen. Reportedly, the data from Deloitte was on the computer of a former HR employee who now works for Sony. Due to the sheer size of the data theft, it’s entirely possible that Deloitte will not be the last company to get roped into the mess Sony Pictures now has to clean up.

FBI issues warning about attack malware

The FBI issued a “flash alert” on Monday to major companies, according to Business Insider, warning them about an unnamed attack group that is using dangerous malware to wipe computer system hard drives of all data. This malware, which is suspected to have been used in the Sony attack, is highly destructive and designed to make computer networks completely unable to operate. This is the first major attack on a U.S. company of its kind. While most people might not care what happens to a Hollywood production company, this breach is definitely worrisome. The entities responsible have not yet been identified. This dangerous malware could be employed to attack other companies — such as banks — with far more devastating consequences for the general public.

Lax security makes companies vulnerable

It is worth noting that a general lack of security at Sony also probably contributed to the success of this attack. For instance, today thousands of company passwords for everything from internal user accounts to social media accounts were leaked. Those who have been researching the attack noted that the files containing these passwords were clearly labeled. It’s a bad idea to keep an unencrypted list of passwords on your computer. If you do create a spreadsheet or other type of file to store passwords, make sure it is password-protected or otherwise encrypted. And don’t name a file something as easy to spot as “passwords!”

As this breach unfolds, it’s a reminder to everyone that data security is vital whether you are an individual or part of a business. To learn more about security software available for your home computers and mobile devices, check out our Internet security software reviews.