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Taking Social Security numbers public could fix our data breach crisis

Posted on June 19, 2019 in Articles | by

Earlier this week, we learned that the American Medical Collection Agency, a billing collection agency, suffered a data breach affecting millions of patients. The perpetrators had access to systems containing Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and medical records belonging to millions of individuals. Initial reports of the breach came through an SEC filing made by Quest Diagnostics informing investors that at least 11.9 million Quest patients were affected by the breach. LabCorp also used AMCA’s services, and the affected system stored information about 7.7 million of its patients. It’s likely that the number of affected individuals will continue to increase as details of other AMCA customers come to light.

We’ve heard this story so many times that we already know how it will unfold. Giant company announces breach. CEO makes statement of contrition. Executive in charge of cybersecurity is publicly fired. Customers receive letters of apology and identity monitoring services. We go back to life as normal until another breach restarts the cycle.

It’s time to break that cycle by fixing the root cause: the misuse of Social Security numbers as proof of identity by financial institutions, insurance companies, landlords, health care providers and just about everyone else.

Published June 2019 in CNN Business Perspectives.

Read the full article: Taking Social Security numbers public could fix our data breach crisis

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Mike Chapple, CISSP, Ph.D.

Mike is an IT leader, information security professional, author, speaker and trainer with over fifteen years of experience in the field.

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