Monday, August 27, 2007

90% of Businesses at Risk of Losing Your ID

by Rick Kam

Should business be responsible for protecting your identity and paying to restore it if crooks misuse it? There is an article in InfoWorld dated July 16, 2007 that says 90 percent of businesses at risk of losing your personal information:

"A new report by the IT Policy Compliance Group finds that the vast majority of businesses do not meet data-handling regulations, increasing the risk of a data breach".

As of this posting, there are 36 States and existing Federal laws that require businesses to safeguard your personal information and notify you if they lose it. Essentially, if a business requires your personal information as a prerequisite to doing business with you, they are required to protect it. So, why are so many business not compliant with current legislation and unprepared to react if they have a data breach?

Security experts say the cost of securing a business from every potential threat is unrealistic. Good information security practices suggest protecting mission critical or high risk information. Unfortunately this means that many systems and information sources may be left at risk. This seems to be where most information crimes occur (i.e. stolen laptops, compromised employees, lost paper documentation, missing back up computer media, etc.). Privacy Rights Clearing House is a good resource for businesses and individuals on data breaches.

Individuals can take action by voicing their opinion, asking questions of the business they frequent, or voting where they spend their money. Several legislators including Senators Gordon Smith, Darlene Hooley, David Wu, and Representative Greg Walden are supporting legislation to require businesses do a better job at protecting personal information. Write your State legislators voicing your concern. The next time a business asks you for your social security number, ask them why they need it. If they do require it, ask them how they protect it. And remember, in most cases you have the final vote as to whether or not you do business with them (vote with your dollars).

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