Feeds

California cuts off aid to ID thieves

Other states continue

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

The California secretary of state's office has shut down portions of its website after it was discovered it had been selling hundreds of thousands of public documents containing social security numbers and signatures, a practice that lasted for years. Several other states have also made available materials that reveal personal information, although it's not clear which, if any, have curbed the policy.

The California secretary's move came after a state assemblyman called attention to the practice of making Uniform Commercial Code documents, such as those memorializing loans, available online. A spokesman in Assemblyman Dave Jones's office said of some two million UCC documents online, about one-third, or about 600,000, contained an individual's name, address, social security number and often signature.

The discovery reveals the pitfalls of fostering open government in the age of online communication. Once upon a time, access to public documents required going to a musty clerk's office and poring over paper files. The availability of thousands of records on a single website makes it almost trivial for people to mine the data for nefarious purposes.

California is by no means the only state that has compromised the privacy of individuals. According to a March 23 update on the Virginia Watchdog site, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas and Indiana also make social security numbers available, although we were unable to confirm this claim one way or the other.

The site hosts a dozen records with personal information of public figures, including former US Secretary of State Colin Powell's deed of trust. "Why should any identity thief have to hack, dumpster dive, or phish when Circuit Court Clerks/Recorders/Secretaries of State are putting records online that contain personal information?" BJ Ostergren, the site's principal, argues. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.