Data exposure: Counties across the U.S. posting sensitive info online
Social Security numbers, driver's license data and bank account numbers are all easily available
Computerworld - Broward County, Fla., Maricopa County, Ariz., Fort Bend County, Texas. Three counties separated by hundreds of miles with something in common: Theyre among potentially hundreds of counties in several states that in recent years have made Social Security numbers, driver's license information, bank account numbers and a variety of other personally sensitive data belonging to residents available to anyone in the world with Internet access.
The exposure follows the failure to redact sensitive information from land records and other public documents posted on the Internet and makes county Web sites a veritable treasure trove of information for identity thieves and other criminals, according to a number of privacy advocates.
These sites are just spoon-feeding criminals the information they need, said B.J. Ostergren, a privacy advocate based in Richmond, Va. But no one appears to be seeing it and nobodys changing the laws, she said.
Among the pieces of personally identifiable information from county Web sites made available to Computerworld by Ostergren and other privacy advocates were: Rep. Tom Delays Social Security number on a tax lien document; the Social Security numbers for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife on a quit claim deed from 1999; drivers license numbers, addresses, vehicle registration information, height and race of individuals arrested for traffic violations; names and dates of birth of minors from final divorce decrees and family court documents; and even complete copies of death certificates with Social Security numbers, dates of birth and cause of death. (The Social Security numbers for Bush and his wife have been redacted and are no longer available online.)
All of this information is available to anyone sitting in a cafe in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world, said David Bloys, a retired private investigator who publishes a newsletter called "News for Public Officials" in Shallowater, Texas. Its a real security threat.
Those concerns follow news that personally identifiable information belonging to an unknown number of current and former residents of Florida are available online because sensitive information has not been removed from public records posted on county Web sites in that state.
Its unclear exactly how many of the 3,600 county governments in the United States do the same thing, said Mark Monacelli, president of the Property Records Industry Association, a Durham, N.C.-based industry group set up to facilitate the recording of, and access to, public property information.
But its safe to assume that many of them are posting sensitive data online, based on the trend by local governments to provide Web-based access to public records, said Darity Wesley, CEO of Privacy Solutions, a privacy consultancy for the real estate industry based in San Diego. I think a lot of [county] recorders have been putting [images of] public land records on the Internet without any concern about who has access to it, Wesley said.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts