Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Worry. But Don't Stress Out.

Filed under
Security

THE theft of computer data at an Arizona company that put as many as 40 million credit card accounts at risk for fraud may have been the largest case of stolen consumer information yet.

But the incident, which was revealed last week and may have occurred months ago, surely will not be the last. In fact, the theft was only the latest in a series of incidents, not all of which involved criminal activity. Earlier this month, for example, United Parcel Service lost data tapes with personal information on nearly four million customers of Citigroup.

The problem of keeping data secure "exists on lots and lots of levels," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "You begin to see that the United States has an enormous problem that is spiraling out of control."

And like seismologists who can look at smaller tremors and know that a major quake is in the offing, consultants and others who study data security and identity theft can confidently predict that more trouble is ahead.

The question, for them, is one of magnitude, whether there will be the electronic equivalent of the Big One, an incident so widespread, compromising so much personal information, that it devastates the system of financial transactions that underpins the consumer economy.

Data thefts and accidental losses have always occurred, Mr. Tenner said. What has changed is that there is now a law in California requiring companies to inform consumers when their information is breached.

Some experts argue that protecting personal data is a hopeless task, that the emphasis should be on making transactions more secure."Making information harder to use is the key," Mr. Schneier said. "Making it harder to steal is a dead end."

One problem is that there currently is little financial incentive to improve security for transactions. "Credit card companies are putting the cost of fraud on the merchants, who put it on us the cardholders," Mr. Spafford said. A governmental role may be necessary, he said.

Whatever the improvements, few experts envision a complete solution. "Any security measures are at best only buying time," Mr. Tenner said. "It's really like the development of antibiotics - they are always trying to stay ahead of the problem."

"For the optimist, this can go on indefinitely," he added. "For the pessimist, it's like the man who jumped out of the 20th floor of a building. As he passed the 10th floor he said, 'So far, so good.' "

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Exactly What Is OpenStack? Red Hat's Rich Bowen Explains

You've probably heard of OpenStack. It's in the tech news a lot, and it's an important open source project. But what exactly is it, and what is it for? Rich Bowen of Red Hat provided a high-level view of OpenStack as a software project, an open source foundation, and a community of organizations in his talk at LinuxCon North America. OpenStack is a software stack that went from small to industry darling at warp speed. It has three major components: The compute service runs the virtual machines (VMs), and it has a networking service and a storage service, plus a dashboard to run everything. OpenStack is only six years old, and was born as a solution devised by Rackspace and NASA to solve a specific problem. Read more

Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator: Muneeb Kalathil

I started using Linux when I was in school. But at that point, I was limited to Installation and running a few commands. I really started learning and growing my interest in Linux while I was working on my degree in Computer Applications. My first distribution was Red Hat CentOS. I spent many hours learning Linux and enjoyed it. Read more

The Linux Foundation Partners with Girls in Tech to Increase Diversity in Open Source

One of the great strengths of open source is that it provides opportunities for everyone. Regardless of background, age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or religion, everyone can benefit from and contribute to some of the most important technologies ever developed. Yet we know that many groups remain underrepresented in the open source community, which is why The Linux Foundation engages in efforts such as providing diversity scholarships for our training and events and sponsoring organizations such as Women Who Code, Code.org, Blacks in Technology, All Star Code and more. Read more

KDE Advisory Board

  • Announcing the KDE Advisory Board
    With KDE having grown from a hobby project by a few volunteers 20 years ago to the large and central Free Software community it is now, our interactions with other organizations have become increasingly important for us. KDE software is available on several platforms, is shipped by numerous distributions large and small, and KDE has become the go-to Free Software community when it comes to Qt. In addition to those who cooperate with KDE on a technical level, organizations which fight for the same vision as ours are our natural allies as well. To put these alliances on a more formal level, the KDE e.V. hereby introduces the KDE e.V. Advisory Board as a means to offer a space for communication between organizations which are allied with KDE, from both the corporate and the non-profit worlds. One of the core goals of the Advisory Board is to provide KDE with insights into the needs of the various organizations that surround us. We are very aware that we need the ability to combine our efforts for greater impact and the only way we can do that is by adopting a more diverse view from outside of our organization on topics that are relevant to us. This will allow all of us to benefit from one another's experience.
  • KDE Introduces An Advisory Board