Thursday, January 21, 2010

What is Identity Theft?

With all of the articles about breaches, including the ones I have posted, sometimes it is important to get back to basics about identity theft itself. Below is an excerpt from a PC World article published yesterday which outlines the definition of identity theft as it has evolved.

"Identity theft happens when your personal information is accessed by someone else without your explicit permission."• "Identity fraud occurs when criminals take that illegally obtained personal information and misuse it for their financial gain, by making fraudulent purchases or withdrawals, creating false accounts, or attempting to obtain services such as employment or healthcare. Personally identifying information such as your Social Security number, bank or credit card account numbers, passwords, telephone calling card number, birth date, name, address and so on can be used by criminals to profit at your expense."• "Almost 10 million Americans learned they were victims of identity fraud in 2008, up from 8.1 million victims in 2007.

"Identity theft also falls into this category [of financial fraud]; cases classified under this heading tend to be those where the perpetrator possesses the complainant's true name identification (in the form of a Social Security card, driver's license, or birth certificate), but there has not been a credit or debit card fraud committed."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Just Another Data Breach"

Data breaches have become so ubiquitous that more often than not they go unnoticed, and often unreported.
I wonder how any victims of identity theft resulting from those breaches feel? While it is reported here that the number of breaches is on a decline the number of breached records is increasing and the number of ID theft victims holds steady. vIts all in the numbers. reports that the number of data breaches reported to the media has declined significantly over the past 18 months. The article cites an Open Security Foundation blog post that says the number of breaches reported in global media has dropped from about 1,000 per month between 2005 and 2008, to about 500 per month. The blog speculates that boredom in the press may be a cause. "Just another data breach" isn't news anymore, the report states.
Full Story