I will be hacked

Sorry, but you're probably doomed when it comes to online theft of your private information and sensitive identity data.

It's happened so many times I've lost count: Over the years my online financial security has been stolen, repeatedly. Credit card numbers galore and even checking account information.

It used to come as something of a shock. Eventually, however, that shock gave way to banal irritation: Oh look, another credit card number stolen, another stupid Internet shopping spree at my expense. Why couldn't hackers spend my hard-earned money on something better than embarrassingly low-brow porn (A “xxx panties” site —I mean, really?) and online gaming.

The last time involved $1,400 worth of charges at a bargain-basement shoe store in, of all places, Kansas.

After that incident, I gave a verbal affidavit to my bank over the phone and within 48 hours all charges had been reversed and I had a new credit card number. Easy, right?

Yes and no. While it's gotten to the point where the banks will, with hardly any questions asked, remedy the situation each time, the truth is that I (along with the millions of other consumers who find themselves in a similar situation) ultimately pay the price for each transgression. In increased retail costs, higher consumer fees and, of course, an ever-dwindling sense of trust.

You don't have to be Jennifer Lawrence or Sony Pictures to understand how unsettling, costly and dangerous a problem this really is.

This week's feature story (see “You will be hacked” by Chris Parker, page 12) outlines just how pervasive hacking is—and how poorly equipped banks, retailers and the government are to stop it.

I'm not stupid—I know today's cheap shoe spree could easily become tomorrow's stolen Social Security card number. Short of keeping my money and sensitive data in a lock box hidden beneath my bed, however, I'm not convinced I have any means to stop it from happening.