Jon William Toigo over DrunkenData.com has a post commenting on the Computerworld story on data exposure in online public documents. Using that data criminals can not only ruin your credit rating while collecting tens of thousands of dollars, they can also take your home. “A signature and notary seal extracted from an online county is all that is needed to take your home,” [David Bloys] said.” Scary stuff.
Bits just want to be free, despite the RIAA. The business value of electronically accessible data is just much greater than paper data. What we have is not a failure to communicate, but a failure to authenticate. If someone really can take your home with a signature and a notary seal, then the systems controlling real estate transactions are flat busted. Rather than try to plug every hole in every public and private entity that we share personal information with, why don’t we just make that information useless to criminals by controlling the systems they exploit?
As I’ve mentioned before (Data Security: A Modest Proposal) requiring authenticated personal approval for the release of credit reports would bring identity theft to a screeching halt. There are only three credit reporting companies. They all have lots of computers and smart people working for them. Authentication is a solvable problem. One law could choke this off tomorrow. Hiding every piece of personal information for 300 million people in millions of businesses and thousands of governmental units is neither likely or cost-effective — though the encryption folks might differ.
When Marshall McLuhan coined the term “global village” he was more right than he knew. In our digital global village privacy is no more likely than in any small town. As storage professionals we should tell our legislators the truth: storage technology cannot solve the problem of identity theft and fraud.
In the Middle Ages most people didn’t have last names. You were just the equivalent of Ed from LA, Bill from Memphis, or Leonard from Vinci. You didn’t travel far and everyone who needed to know who you were did. As people started traveling more a new infrastructure, including last names, was created to help identify individuals accurately.
Well, it is time for new infrastructure so we can securely authenticate ourselves both in person and online. It isn’t a storage problem and we’d be fools to take this monkey on our backs.