Online Identify Theft Is Only Getting Easier
We’re all vulnerable. Even with a fifteen-character password and multiple security questions that your parents would struggle to answer, modern software has allowed savvy data thieves to not only find your information, but also use it to damage credit files beyond recovery. Unfortunately, it will likely only get worse.
There are two main reasons why security breaches resulting in stolen data will increase in prevalence over the next few years. First, our reliance on digital services like Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, and any sort of online banking forces us to input some of our most personal information onto systems that thousands of people are trying to crack into at this very moment.
Credit card numbers, addresses, and phone numbers are required on some of these ever-expanding services. Facebook is continuing to strengthen its security measures, but it only takes one talented programmer to discover a vulnerability within these multibillion dollar products. Just ask anyone working at Twitter after its recent issues with TweetDeck.
The second reason that security breaches are likely to increase is a bit scarier. Data thieves are getting smarter, and the amount of data they need in order to take your identity is getting smaller and smaller. Low-value information that seemed innocuous in the past can now be used to paint a vivid picture of someone’s life. Names and birthdays can act as keys into bigger, more robust storehouses of personal information.
With nothing more than a birthdate and the state in which an individual was born, skilled thieves can predict the first five digits of a social security number with more than 90 percent accuracy. From there, guesswork and persistence can lead to someone’s full number, which opens up an entirely new can of worms.
As we continue to rely on online services to store our banking information and house some of our most personal records, the risk of seeing it all snatched away by a stranger becomes much more severe. This puts an even greater burden on software testers and developers because a simple mistake in an application can lead to major personal problems for millions of loyal users.