java barcode reader library free The Perils of Digital Identity in Software

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Most of the time, consumers enjoy the benefits of convenience that come with centralized digital identities The problems only happen when someone uses the F word, fraud, which has become a major problem in the last decade Criminals have realized it is easier to steal digital money than it is to steal the green variety The key to virtual robbery is virtual impersonation Grab somebody s digital identity, and you can take his or her digital assets Identity theft is accomplished by obtaining the few pieces of information needed to establish a trusted digital identity This is not difficult to do You would be surprised how much of the necessary information is contained in your junk mail For example, your name, address, and date of birth are often found on common credit card offers, most of which end up in your garbage Intercepting the right piece of real mail can provide a thief with even more information, such as your bank account numbers and your social security number Public records can be used to fill in the gaps (see Figure IV-1) Once these pieces of information are assembled, the holder can begin impersonating the unlucky victim The information can be used to open credit card accounts, activate cell phones, and even lease automobiles Identity theft is a federal crime That said, justice is served far less often than necessary Identity thieves are difficult to catch, and it s equally difficult to obtain substantial proof for prosecution
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Part IV Determining Identity 99
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Catching the perpetrators of identity theft crimes is complicated by the fact that most people do not realize they are being victimized until months after the crime has occurred Usually, the first indication of a problem is a call from an unfamiliar creditor trying to collect money The victim s response is that the creditor has made a mistake I don t have a cell phone account with that company How can I owe them any money The cell phone may only be the tip of the iceberg Credit cards, lines of credit, and other financial services may have been abused Crimes may even have been committed in the victim s name, and he or she can look forward to weeks of frustration tracking down and clearing every identity abuse Years after the fact, he or she will continue to have trouble obtaining legitimate credit due to damage done by the thief By the time the dust settles and police reports have been filed, the relatively anonymous criminal is long gone No perpetrator is apprehended and no record exists for how all this occurred, so who gets stuck with the fraudulent charges In the best-case scenario for the victim, the credit lender or the vendors take the hit However, the additional costs of fraud absorbed by vendors each year are ultimately passed onto the consumer
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Identity theft is a disaster What can be done about it As we ve stated before, it s not possible to provide total security for anything, but it is possible to raise the bar way above the heads of most criminals A good security system is too complex or costly for the average crook to crack In the case of secure identification, raising the bar involves using a combination of techniques for establishing identity Earlier in this chapter, we showed you how a person could be viewed as a collection of physical attributes as well as a set of knowledge, behavior, possessions, and history These are called identification factors, and modern security theory has organized them into the following four categories (see Figure IV-2): What you know refers to specific knowledge that can help someone prove his or her identity This needs to be knowledge that uniquely relates to a particular individual The most common example is a password Other examples include personal history details, such as a mother s maiden name, elementary school teachers, or pet names Government-issued identification numbers are also frequently used The lesser known the information, the more secure it is as an identification factor Counterpoint: Many supposedly private bits of data are actually not as private as you d think A large amount of personal historical information is publicly available or otherwise easy to discover What you have refers to items that are in one s possession These portable identifiers include physical keys, documents, clothing, jewelry, vehicles, and residences Items that are easy to carry and difficult to duplicate are the most appropriate to use as a basis for identification Unique documents, such as birth certificates, passports, and government identifications are designed to make duplication incredibly difficult Credit cards and keys are easier to duplicate, but more convenient for daily transactions Counterpoint: If an item is lost or duplicated, somebody else can use it to impersonate the original owner Physically protecting the identifying item becomes critical and makes the item less convenient to use What you are refers to physical attributes unique to one s physical and biological makeup Examples of these traits include fingerprints, hand topography, hand geometry, and retina/iris patterns Each one is extremely difficult to duplicate and very specific to a person Biometric systems are used to record and compare these physical traits Counterpoint: Biometric systems use computers, which can be tricked or bypassed It s easy to mistake the precision of a biometric system for accuracy For example, biometric fingerprint scanners may mistakenly grant access to a gel mold of an authorized fingerprint What you do refers to unique patterns of action that a body generates This includes handwriting, typing, speech, and movement patterns These
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