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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Even if you are a hermit living in a desolate cabin, you would probably somehow have heard about the fact that data breaches are the biggest news story of the day. You’d think this reasoning would apply to individuals entrusted with our sensitive data, even if they don’t read print articles, hear it on TV or radio, or Google it on the Internet. Not so. The idiots are still out there, and one surfaced recently in Ohio, a 22-year-old intern from a state agency, who left a backup data device in his car with 64,000 state employees’ names and Social Security numbers. (See the stories: and All that’s needed by the crooks to heist these identities, ruin their credit, and generally make life miserable. But to make it worse, the state’s Governor issued a statement indicating, because they don’t believe a breach of information has occurred the victims needn’t be concerned. One, a breach did occur when the idiot intern left the storage device in his car as fair game for thieves. Think about it. Since there is no real value to something like this, why else would they steal it except for the data? Two, even if it were petty thieves, the awareness is high enough that, when they realize what they have, they’ll sell it to the highest bidder. Three, this is such an organized crime event now that the culprits hold the data until the heat is off, then use it when the victim is least suspecting. If the Governor’s comment didn’t stymie most consumer concern—the apathy is already large enough without all these amateur opinions—The Columbus Dispatch printed a story I won’t link to because of obvious reasons titled, “Breaches often don’t lead to ID theft.” From the initial incident which was the ChoicePoint breach of 163,000 names in Feb. 2005, the FTC has identified 1,400 victims. Javelin Survey’s latest figure of an average loss per victim of $5,720 adds up to a potential $8 million in the Ohio case. This whole scenario of “don’t worry” after data breaches reminds me of the Mayor in the movie Jaws, who didn’t want to scare off the tourists. We’d better start worrying because the bad guys are becoming more adept each day in capturing our personal data, and using for their own fraudulent purposes.

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