The huge Equifax hack revealed last week not only exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million customers  — it reminded us just how vulnerable we all are to identity theft.

Former Homeland Security intelligence expert John Cohen, now a distinguished professor of professional practice in criminal justice at Rutgers-New Brunswick, said hacks such as the Equifax data theft will only get worse as time goes by.

"I think that we can all expect that it is going to continue," Cohen said. "What we noticed over the last give years is a growing use of cyber intrusion and data extraction, by a much broader range of groups and individuals. We are now seeing criminal organizations from across the globe, terrorist organizations, even foreign intelligence organizations, all increasingly turning to cyber intrusion for the purposes of getting information systems, and extracting sensitive data."

Cohen said the private sector and government really needs to get on the same page.

"These global actors are targeting both private sector and government information systems," he said. So one of the first things that we need is much closer coordination and collaboration between private sector organizations that collect and maintain sensitive information, and government agencies, particularly those government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, who are responsible for protecting the information of our critical infrastructure companies.

"The bottom line is, we need closer collaboration. We need more of a focus on protecting not only these key systems, but the sensitive data that is within."

Experts have warned for years that the widespread use of Social Security numbers, lax corporate security and even looser individual password practices could lead to disaster. The Equifax attackers made off with data for roughly 44 percent of the American population.

Millions of others have already been exposed from other, past hacks.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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