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    Is Your State Helping Scammers Rip You Off?Column, Government, Blog, Identity Theft

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    As cybercriminals become more skilled, the privacy practices at many organizations have not kept apace. In the State Compendium of Unclaimed Property Practices that I’ve compiled, I found this to be the case at many state treasuries where the data exposed provides fraudsters with a crime exacta: claiming money that no one will ever miss and gathering various nuggets of personal data that can help facilitate other types of identity theft. First, you have to […]

  • The Real Question We Should Be Asking After the Massive Government HackColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    True or False? There was no way the Office of Personnel Management could have prevented hackers from stealing the sensitive personal information of 4.1 million federal employees, past and present. If you guessed “False,” you’d be wrong. If you guessed, “True,” you’d also be wrong. The correct response is: “Ask a different question.” Serious data breaches keep happening because there is no black-and-white answer to the data breach quagmire. So what should we be doing? […]

  • 5 Ways the IRS Scammers Could Have Stolen All Those Tax ReturnsColumn, Blog

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    Last week, the Internal Revenue Service revealed that a group of organized criminals effectively walked through their front door and used an application on its “Get Transcript” site to pore over the past tax returns of more than 100,000 Americans. According to several news reports, the stolen information was deployed to commit tax fraud, with an estimated take of up to $50 million in bogus tax refunds before the IRS discovered the ploy. “We’re confident […]

  • 5 Ways Your Email Address Can Be Used Against YouColumn, Blog

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    Email addresses are like opinions—nearly everyone has one. It is the most public piece of personal information you have besides your name. But what you may not know about your email address could hurt you. Your email may not seem like personally identifiable information at first blush, and for good reason. It is a requirement of everyday life. Asked for a list of sensitive personal information, I feel pretty certain that most people wouldn’t think […]

  • 5 Identity Theft Facts That Will Terrify YouColumn, Blog, Identity Theft

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    Identity theft was the number one consumer complaint at the Federal Trade Commission last year. So far in 2015, the data breach problem that drives so many identity-related crimes has gotten worse. The massive compromises at Anthem and Premera alone put a combined 91 million records in harm’s way. With more information “out there” than we can possibly know, identity theft has become the third certainty in life, right behind death and taxes. And because […]

  • Wetware: The Major Data Security Threat You’ve Never Heard OfColumn, Data Security, Blog

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    For the first time, according to a recent study, criminal and state-sponsored hacks have surpassed human error as the leading cause of health care data breaches, and it could be costing the industry as much as $6 billion. With an average organization cost of $2.1 million per breach, the results of the study give rise to a question: How do you define human error? More than half of the respondents in the Ponemon Institute’s Fifth […]

  • Can Smart Cities Stop Hackers?Column, Blog

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    A monster storm is on a collision course with New York City and an evacuation is under way. The streets are clogged, and then it happens. Every traffic light turns red. Within minutes, the world’s largest polished diamond, the Cullinan I, on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the collection of the British Crown Jewels, is whisked away by helicopter. While this may sound like the elevator pitch for an action film, the […]

  • The Social Security Number is Dead. Long Live the Social Security Number?Column, Blog

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    I am a senior citizen. While this distinction entitles me to a variety of perks like discounted movies and bus fare – as well as the occasional free doughnut (seriously) — it’s also a ticket to the identity theft lottery. Turning 50 gets you an invitation to AARP and turning 65 gets you a Medicare card. What’s this have to do with identity theft? Take a close look at a Medicare card. The identification number? […]

  • Should We Kill the Social Security Number?Column, Blog

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    While tax season is still producing eye twitches around the nation, it’s time to face the music about tax-related identity theft. Experts project the 2014 tax year will be a bad one. The Anthem breach alone exposed 80 million Social Security numbers, and then was quickly followed by the Premera breach that exposed yet another 11 million Americans’ SSNs. The question now: Why are we still using Social Security numbers to identify taxpayers? From April […]

  • It Took Just One Email to Compromise the Leaders of the Free WorldColumn, Blog

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    Whether an autofill mishap or a “What in the name of God were you thinking?” move, somebody’s shrimp is on the barbie at Australia’s immigration department after an officer there emailed President Obama’s passport number and other personal information to an organizer at the Asian Cup football tournament. And before you think otherwise: Yeah, it matters. An Australian freedom of information request recently revealed that the personally identifiable information (PII) of many of the world […]

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