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

GNU/Linux Leftovers

  • Download Linux Voice issue 18
  • Windows desktop share falls below 90% [Ed: based on Microsoft-connected firm]
    The desktop share of Windows computers worldwide fell below 90 per cent for the first time since it established the mark, according to figures from the web analytics company Net Applications. While there were encouraging figures for Microsoft among the various Windows versions, the overall share fell to 89.23 per cent.
  • Linus Torvalds Announces Linux Kernel 4.6 RC6, Dubbed "Charred Weasel"
    It's Sunday night, so Linus Torvalds has announced the release of a new RC build for the upcoming Linux 4.6 kernel series, which has been dubbed "Charred Weasel." According to Linus Torvalds, things continue to remain fairly calm in the development cycle of Linux kernel 4.6, which might very well get one more Release Candidate (RC), version RC7, next week, on May 8, 2016. Then, one week later, on May 15, we should be able to get our hands on the final release of Linux kernel 4.6, which will hit the stable repositories of various distributions most probably around June 2016.
  • Reaper Audio Software Is Coming To Linux
    If Audacity and Ardour aren't cutting it for your audio editing needs on Linux, there's another Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) option coming to Linux: Reaper. Reaper is a high-end audio production software suite developed by Cockos Software. Reaper has been supported under Windows and OS X for this software that's been around since 2005. With the current development version, native Linux support is coming.
  • Plasma Mobile : New base system
    Last Akademy, the Plasma team revealed the first prototype of the new Plasma Mobile. [...] Our initial Ubuntu Touch base was Ubuntu 15.04. Eventually, our image started to diverge from the Ubuntu Touch base. For example, we upgraded libhybris to upstream version because libhybris available in Ubuntu archive diverged too much from upstream to be useful in our context. We also had to upgrade to a newer Qt version, and we also needed to upgrade the base system to Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) because we did not have the resources for managing different branches for packaging the latest git KF5/Plasma for 15.04.
  • Converging Kubes
    Kube, our PIM-Client in the making, is supposed to run on a variety of platforms and form-factors. We aim to provide a consistent look and feel across them all. If you know how to use Kube on your desktop machine, you will know how to use it on your Android phone or tablet as well. So what we are going to do, is building a UI for the phone, allowing it to display multiple pages on the tablet and in the end serving it on the desktop as well. Good idea, right?
  • openSUSE announces first round of accepted proposals
    The first round of proposals for the openSUSE Conference have been accepted and people who submitted a call for papers should log-in to events.opensuse.org and check to see if their talk has been accepted as part of the first round of proposals. For proposals that have been accepted, users should confirm their proposal as soon as possible and also register for the conference if they had not done so already.
  • Prepare your Raspberry Pi for space with an Astro Pi flight case
    One year ago this month, I published my first article on Opensource.com. I talked about our Astro Pi program in Students compete for a chance to have their Raspberry Pi code run in space. We've come a long way in that last 12 months—in December, our two Astro Pi units were sent to the International Space Station aboard the Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply mission; closely followed by British ESA astronaut Tim Peake.

Red Hat News

Android Leftovers

6 colleges turning out open source talent

Most IT departments have project road maps that will require open-source skills, but finding recent college grads with open source talent can be challenging. Whether your company is planning an open-source-based big data implementation, installing an open-platform file manager, or adopting an open approach to customer relationship management, experts say traditional computer science departments might not be turning out students you need. Read more