Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not Just Yesterday's Headlines, But the Day After Tomorrow's As Well

“We live in a precarious time, where knowledge of a Social Security number, along with other information about one’s name and date of birth, is sometimes sufficient to impersonate another individual,” said Alessandro Acquisti, the study’s lead author, in a telephone interview.
Acquisti, an economist at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management in Pittsburgh, and computer scientist Ralph Gross used records from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to search for statistical patterns in the Social Security numbers of people. They obtained birth data from voter registration lists, online white pages, social networking sites and other sources, he said.
Bloomberg, 7-6-09

Not Just Yesterday's Headlines, But the Day After Tomorrow's As Well

The findings of a study released early this week by CyLab researcher Alessandro Acquisti and his team revealed that someone's nine-digit SSN can be predicted with "great accuracy." Of course, it was even easier to predict that the study's release would become a blockbuster story, and indeed it did.

Here are excerpts from a broad cross-section of the stories (including mainstream, business, IT, science and alternative media sources) that arose from the release of "Predicting Social Security numbers from public data, co-authored by Acquisti and Heinz College post-doctoral researcher Ralph Gross, with links to the full texts. -- Richard Power

Scientists guess nearly one in ten Social Security numbers USA Today, 7-6-09

How to figure out someone’s social security number Christian Science Monitor, 7-6-09

Weakness in Social Security Numbers Is Found New York Times, 7-6-09

Social Security # Analysis Emphasizes Need for Reform Daily Kos, 7-6-09

New algorithm guesses SSNs using date and place of birth Ars Technica, 7-6-09

Predicting Social Security Numbers Washington Post, 7-6-09

Social Security Number Prediction Makes Identity Theft Easy Information Week, 7-7-09

Social security flaw leaves way open for cyber-theft New Scientist, 7-7-09

Study: Social Security numbers are predictable Computerworld, 7-7-09

Social Security Numbers ID'd Using Public Data PC Magazine, 7-7-09

Social Security Numbers Can Be Predicted With Public Information Science Daily, 7-7-09

Is Your Facebook Account a Gold Mine for Identity Thieves? TIME, 7-8-09

How Social-Networking Sites Can Reveal Your Social Security Number Wall Street Journal Digits, 7-9-09

For more on the story, read There is an Elephant in the Room; & Everyone’s Social Security Numbers are Written on Its Hide