"So the combination is... one, two, three, four, five? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!"
The character Dark Helmet from 1987's Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs
is right. But, in many instances it isn't just what you choose as your password any more than how your information is stored. We've read or heard about the Target credit card leaks
and even more recently the Norwalk SSN printing error
. The rise of cloud computing
on the private side of storage and the consolidation of private info publicly through the insecure Federal government's health insurance web portal
are further exposures of yourself or your business to consider shoring up.
We are still in the midst of the NSA's policies needing reform (do you really need me to link you to anything on that?) and if that weren't enough, the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Dodd-Frank
headed by Ohio's own Richard Cordray
is now in the process of data mining
over 90% of the country's financial transactions, credit scores, etc.
None of this is with your consent, not that your garden-variety identity thief would ask for it anyway.
What can you do?
In some cases not much. However, there are various credit monitoring services your bank may offer or the credit bureaus themselves. LifeLock
is another private service that is supposed to help keep your identity and accounts in check. Newer to the scene aren't just financial monitors but those of reputation. It is easy for information to become distorted or worse online. So "ORMs" (online reputation managers) have come into being providing, though with some mixed results
but an option all the same.
If you really want the free, quick-and-dirty way of doing it simply employ a hobby that has been around since search engines became prevalent: ego surfing. Just type your name or your business's name in a search engine of your choice and see what comes up. Hopefully nothing bad, and in many cases it can be fun. Doing the same for myself I see that I am a retired professional wrestler
, author at wired.com
, and Vice President, Corporate Product Marketing at Citrix
However, fun aside, I caught that one of my game publishers had our address misspelled on their Store Locator
page. This could possibly mislead customers or cause confusion. So it's a good catch and it will allow me to get up with them to correct the mistake. On a similar note, did you know that according to Wikipedia Sandusky, OH
is currently run by:
Jason Andrew Danko
Greg Timothy Clemets
Pervis D. Brown Jr.
C. Wesley Poole
So, please do your best to monitor yourself, your family, and/or your business. It is difficult to have assurance from anyone even in the private sector to be completely able to help. You can hope that government will do its best, too, but to continue the quotes from Spaceballs...