Wednesday, April 25, 2007

President's Identity Theft Task Force issues recommendations

The Identity Theft Task Force has issued the formal recommendations they've been putting together since May, 2006. The recommendations include feedback solicited from the general public.

The final report is comprehensive -- identifying all the issues that have made identity theft and the financial crimes that result from it -- a major concern in the public eye.

The report does (slightly) downplay the problem of data-breaches, noting no significant increase in financial crimes and identity theft from them. I'm not sure, I completely agree with this, but other's could probably argue this point with me. Despite this, it does make a lot of great recommendations on how to limit our exposure to the problem.

In all fairness, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to identify the original point of compromise in an identity theft case. In most cases, the best guess rule applies. With information being sold over the Internet, the criminal using the information probably isn't sure where it came from originally, either. And even if they were to tell us, most of them can't be considered 100 percent credible.

Underground carder forums seem to be selling personal and financial information, too inexpensively. This phenomenon ties the less sophisticated identity thieves with those of a more sophisticated (organized) nature. Given this, the problem has the ability to expand, rapidly.

As there is more demand, we might see more information being used in all sorts of crimes and Internet access is growing, rapidly.

Congress considered several bills on data breaches in their last session, but failed to pass any of them. Protecting against data breaches is going to be an expensive proposition and my guess is that there is a lot of lobbying going on by the organizations that will ultimately pay for protecting the information better.

The report calls for stricter laws and more aggressive enforcement, which is something that should be taken seriously. In my opinion, a large part of the problem is that identity theft is too easy to commit, extremely profitable, and consequences are minimal, if caught.

Also called for is more cooperation of an International nature, which is going to be a key part of any resolution to what is rapidly becoming a global problem.

The full report can be seen, here.

The Task Force's homepage, which has more good information, can be seen, here.

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