Oct 16, 2017

The Equifax Scandal and the Need for a New Identification System

Last month, Equifax announced that it had suffered a cyber-security breach; where cybercriminals accessed approximately 145.5 million U.S. Equifax consumers’ personal data. I didn’t think much about the breach until a couple of weeks later, when my online bank had a huge banner warning that I was one of the Equifax consumers.

If someone had asked me who is Equifax, my best guess would be that it is some antiquated company that makes Fax machines. It turns out that Equifax is one of the largest consumer credit-reporting agencies in the world. It tracks credit history on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide. Experian and TransUnion are the two other firms in the trinity of credit management, and they both have around 200 million consumers.

The CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, was called before two House and Senate Committees to explain why his firm had suffered such a huge data breach. While lawmakers were chewing out Smith, the IRS was in the process of awarding Equifax with a non-bid contract to help validate the identity of taxpayers communicating with the agency, on the telephone or through its website. Just as large banks are too big to fail, big credit is too big to assail.

I read in the news reports that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required by law to give everyone a free credit report once a year. I was wondering if there was a Nigerian version of myself, who might be flying to the Swiss Alps for wild shopping sprees in the finest stores in Zürich and Bern. It turns out that I died around 2009. My current consumer statements all show zero activity. The last three credit cards issued to me expired without use.

I don’t connect well with the $65 trillion credit that people have built up. For me, going out on the town involves a trip to Texas Roadhouse; which has to be limited to once or twice a month because of my cholesterol. My biggest consumer purchase of the year was a $250 comforter from Macy’s.

There have been many credit breaches in recent years. In 2013, hackers got into the Target Corp’s financial database and compromised at least 40 million cards. In 2014, Home Depot had a major breach affecting people who used payment cards on its self-checkout terminals. Just last week, the fast food giant, Sonic, said that credit and debit card numbers may have been acquired as part of a malware attack at some Sonic locations. The company did not disclose which locations or the specific time frame of the incident.

I don’t understand the complexities of how credit card information is stolen. I do know that the basic problem is because of two factors: speed and the modern ability to store vast amounts of information. In the early days of the internet, it would take those cybercriminals several years to transmit the records of 154 million consumers, and they would need a truckload of floppy disks to store all that data. Today, you can transfer the Social Security numbers of every American in a few minutes, and they would all fit on a single thumb drive.

The Equifax scandal has Washington questioning the security of our ID system. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg news both reported that the Trump administration is exploring ways to replace the Social Security number with a safer system, based on modern technology. Rob Joyce, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator, said that one possibility is using cryptographic keys, or a combination of long random numbers, to unlock personal data. The merit of such numbers is that they could be revoked once they are found to be compromised, he explained.

If you issued an ID code that is 50 places long, there is obviously no way for you to remember this sequence of characters. The shortfall of a cryptographic key is needing to track who is receiving your information in a transaction. To maintain security, a central system will need to track and issue a new cryptographic key every time a person creates a new transaction.

The key can make the transmitting of data safe, but it needs to be placed in a safe location. The human body seems to be the only logical choice. The amazing prediction made 2,000 years ago is rapidly becoming a necessity.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:16-18).

– Todd

Trump: “Peace has to happen”

It is inevitable. Peace in the Middle East must happen. This, according to President Donald Trump.

The president, while being interviewed on former Governor Mike Huckabee’s initial TBN program, made the declaration.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”

He said further, “f we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen.”

Trump, in June of 2017, signed a temporary order keeping the American embassy in Tel Aviv. This follows the actions of presidents preceding him.

Some see this as his breaking a promise he made while on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. He received rousing ovations every time he declared he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the city that Israel claims as its capital.

Mr. Trump has said on numerous occasions that his administration is working on a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians that will result in peace for the whole region. He has appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as unofficial diplomat in charge of working to accomplish peace in the Middle East.

Others–including the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government–deny that the president has abandoned the idea of moving the embassy. In his declaration that he wants to give peace a chance before moving the embassy, Trump simply means, in their view, that the move is postponed. To force such an action at this moment in the current volatile geopolitical climate would likely ramp up hostilities.

To watchers on the wall–those who view the world through the prism of Bible prophecy from the pre-Millennial, pre-Tribulation perspective, the president’s declaration and decision on the embassy move should not come as surprise.

Like every other prophetic indicator on the present world horizon, the fact that there is a continuing drive to force peace between Israel and its enemy neighbors is simply something that must be in view while final prophecies near fulfillment. Like Mr. Trump says, peace between Israel and its closest enemy neighbor “has to happen,” from the human point of view.

Like all the world has cried for decades–as wrapped neatly in the lyrics of the song by John Lennon–we must “give peace a chance.”

But, that much-ballyhooed peace process leaves out the one essential ingredient that can make it come to pass. God is ignored. The very Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not even considered in their humanistic effort. As a matter of fact, His Holy name is ridiculed and mocked at every turn by most of the diplomatic world. Christ is viewed as the holdup to peace in most instances, rather than the solution to the hatred and war-making that has dominated human history.

Mr. President, much of your political–electoral–base is made up by those of us who support Israel. We want peace for Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and the world. We know, however, from what God’s prophetic Word has to say, that there will be no peace until the Prince of Peace rules and reigns in the hearts and minds of mankind.

The present call for peace is addressed, I’m convinced, by the apostle Paul as follows:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1)

Mr. President, peace will happen. It will come in two distinctively opposite forms.

The first peace will be a false peace, brought about by the man of sin, the son of perdition — Antichrist.

Daniel the prophet said the following about this false prince that shall come:

And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many. (Daniel8: 25)

The other peace–the real peace–will be brought upon the planet at Christ’s return to make all things right again.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said the following just before leaving this sin-corrupted world:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

— Terry