Data Breach Alert: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library | Console and Associates, P.C. | #itsecurity | #infosec

Recently, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library confirmed that, as a result of a data security incident, the names, Social Security numbers and financial account information of certain consumers was compromised.

If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk. The data breach lawyers at Console & Associates, P.C. are actively investigating the Winterthur Museum data breach on behalf of people whose information was exposed. As a part of this investigation, we are providing free consultations to anyone affected by the breach who is interested in learning more about the risks of identity theft, what they can do to protect themselves, and what their legal options may be to obtain compensation from Winterthur Museum.

Last year, 1,862 data breaches affected more than 189 million people. On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, credit damage, and may even end up with a criminal record. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.

What We Know So Far About the Winterthur Museum Data Breach

According to a letter composed by Winterthur Museum’s attorneys, on January 27, 2022, the museum experienced a disruption to certain computer systems on its network. In response, Winterthur Museum took the necessary steps to secure its network and then engaged in an investigation to determine whether any consumer information was compromised as a result. The investigation confirmed that an unauthorized party gained access to the museum’s systems on January 17, 2022, and accessed and potentially acquired certain files.

Upon learning of the extent of the security breach, Winterthur Museum then reviewed the affected files to determine what information was compromised. While the compromised information varies by consumer, it may include your name, Social Security number and financial account information.

On around March 14, 2022, Winterthur Museum began sending out data breach notification letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is a museum of American decorative arts, with a collection of nearly 90,000 pieces. The museum is contained in a 175-room home and is surrounded by 1,000 acres of protected meadows, woodlands, ponds, and waterways. The museum also features a 60-acre garden, designed by the museum’s founder, Henry Francis du Pont. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is located in Winterthur, Delaware, and generates annual revenue of approximately $32 million.

More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches

Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to an organization’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted Winterthur Museum, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those organizations believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.

Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases an organization experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for it to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.

While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of an unauthorized person. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.

Given this reality, individuals who receive a Winterthur Museum data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Organizations like Winterthur Museum are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Winterthur Museum failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.

What Are Consumers’ Remedies in the Wake of the Winterthur Museum Data Breach?

When guests decided to visit Winterthur Museum, they assumed that the museum would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that consumers would think twice before giving the museum access to their information if they knew it wasn’t going to be secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of an organization’s data security system.

When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores consumer data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow consumers to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.

Of course, given the recency of the Winterthur Museum data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting Winterthur Museum is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.

If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Winterthur Museum, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.

What Should You Do if You Receive a Winterthur Museum Data Breach Notification?

If Winterthur Museum sends you a data breach notification letter, you are among those whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:

  1. Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.

  2. Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.

  3. Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, companies often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against the organization if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.

  4. Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.

  5. Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.

Below is a copy of the initial data breach letter issued by Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library:

Dear [Consumer],

We represent Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (“Winterthur’’) located at 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735, and are writing to notify your office of an incident that may affect the security of some personal information relating to six (6) New Hampshire residents. This notice may be supplemented with new significant facts learned subsequent to its submission. By providing this notice, Winterthur does not waive any rights or defenses regarding the applicability of New Hampshire law, the applicability of the New Hampshire data event notification statute, or personal jurisdiction.

Nature of the Data Event

On January 27, 2022, Winterthur discovered a disruption to certain computer systems on its network. Winterthur immediately took steps to secure its systems and launched an investigation with the assistance of third-party forensic specialists to determine what may have happened. The investigation determined that an unknown actor gained access to certain computer systems on the Winterthur network on January 17, 2022, and accessed and/or acquired certain files from these systems. The affected files were identified, and Winterthur conducted a thorough review of each file to identify whether any personal information was contained therein and to whom that information related.

The information that could have been subject to unauthorized access includes name, Social Security number, and financial account information.

Notice to New Hampshire Residents

On or about March 14, 2022, Winterthur provided written notice of this incident to all affected individuals, which includes six (6) New Hampshire residents. Written notice is being provided in substantially the same form as the letter attached here as Exhibit A.

Other Steps Taken and To Be Taken

Upon discovering the event, Winterthur moved quickly to investigate and respond to the incident, assess the security of its systems, and notify potentially affected individuals. Winterthur is also working to implement additional safeguards and training to its employees. Winterthur is providing access to credit monitoring services for twelve (12) months, through Experian, to individuals whose personal information was potentially affected by this incident, at no cost to these individuals.

Additionally, Winterthur is providing impacted individuals with guidance on how to better protect against identity theft and fraud, including advising individuals to report any suspected incidents of identity theft or fraud to their credit card company and/or bank. Winterthur is providing individuals with information on how to place a fraud alert and security freeze on one’s credit file, the contact details for the national consumer reporting agencies, information on how to obtain a free credit report, a reminder to remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by reviewing account statements and monitoring free credit reports, and encouragement to contact the Federal Trade Commission, their state Attorney General, and law enforcement to report attempted or actual identity theft and fraud.

Contact Information

Should you have any questions regarding this notification or other aspects of the data security event, please contact us at (267) 930-4839.

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