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Social Security Numbers On The DOJ's Web Site Could Lead To Identity Theft

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Social Security Numbers On The DOJ's Web Site Could Lead To Identity Theft
2. Today's Top Story
    - InformationWeek Exclusive: Justice Department Reveals Social Security Numbers
    - Data Security Movement Back-Burnered By Lawmakers
3. Breaking News
    - Symantec Bug Not Likely To Be Hit By Worm, Says Rival
    - IBM Exec Says Microsoft Standards Plan Has 'Bizarre Restrictions'
    - Opera Denies Microsoft Buyout Rumors
    - Los Alamos Employees Critical Of Lab Decision
    - FBI's Sentinel Should Go Forward Despite Shortcomings
    - California Agency Proposes Telecom-User Bill Of Rights
    - Online Elves Busy With Blogs, E-Mails, Sleigh Tracking
    - 'Cheapskate' Online Shoppers Rule The Holidays
    - AMD Acknowledges Desktop CPU Shortages
    - Study: Newer Communications Tools Challenge E-Mail's Dominance
    - Report: Outsourcing Market To Restructure
    - Q&A: IBM's Collaboration Chief Talks Domino, Workplace Game Plan
    - Tech Investment Analyst Bullish On 2006 Semiconductor Market
4. Grab Bag
    - PluggedIn: Avoiding The Post-Holiday Online Shopping Blues (Reuters)
    - Microsoft Is Losing Some Of Its Elbow Room (Washington Post)
    - French Lawmakers Endorse File-Sharing (AP)
5. In Depth
    - Symantec, McAfee Problems May Lead To Sea Change In Antivirus Industry
    - Indian Firm Claims Its Antivirus Software Stops Threats
    - Symantec Says Vulnerability Hits 63 Products
    - Bug Bites McAfee Antivirus
    - Forecast 2006: Hackers May Hit Mobile Devices, Cisco Routers, Microsoft Vista
    - Antivirus Vendors Struggle To Keep Up With Attacks
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Bracing For A Nation Of CrackBerry Addicts
7. White Papers
    - One-On-One Laptop Initiatives
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day: Christmas

"A good conscience is a continual Christmas." -- Benjamin Franklin

"At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year." -- Thomas Tusser

"A fool judges people by the presents they give him." -- Chinese Proverb


1. Editor's Note: Social Security Numbers On The DOJ's Web Site Could Lead To Identity Theft

I know a little something about identity theft, having spent the past four months trying to convince my bank that nearly $800 in purchases at Toy 'R' Us allegedly made using my Visa debit card were fraudulent. So when I opened an E-mail Monday morning that described an InformationWeek reader's efforts to alert the Justice Department that its Web site was revealing Social Security numbers on court documents accessible through the site, I was a bit sensitive to the issue. When the reader pointed out that he had warned the Justice Department that he would go to the media if it didn't remove the Social Security number, I called the Justice Department to find out what was going on.

Identity theft and fraud are a huge problem in this world of E-everything, and giving away someone's name and Social Security number is like giving a criminal a present wrapped with a bow. To its credit, the Justice Department returned my call inquiring about the Social Security number and the department's privacy policy. The main public affairs contact referred me to a spokesman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and this spokesman E-mailed a response to my questions the next day.

In the meantime, my original source E-mailed me with another example of a Social Security number that he had obtained through the Justice Department's site. He sent me a link to a PDF court document that revealed the Social Security number of a man accused of insurance fraud. I searched on the Justice Department's Web site using the accused man's name and was led to the PDF court document. I also searched for the information on Google and Yahoo and was delivered to the same document. Then I went back to the Justice Department's main Web page and searched for "ssn." That led me to find even more Social Security numbers.

My hope is that, through the publication of my article, this problem will be remedied and that other sites will re-evaluate their own content for private information that can be used to commit identity theft. I still have no idea how someone got my debit-card information (the card never left my possession and the purchases were actually made at a Toys 'R' Us store, not online). Ultimately, I got my money back when the bank compared my signature with the fraudulent signature. It was a very stressful four months and an experience I don't wish for anyone else to share.

On a lighter note, I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Larry Greenemeier
lgreenem@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

InformationWeek Exclusive: Justice Department Reveals Social Security Numbers
A document on the Justice Department Executive Office for Immigration Review's site listed the name and Social Security number of a woman involved in a 2003 immigration review case. Other searches of the site yielded more Social Security numbers and identifying information.

Related Story:

Data Security Movement Back-Burnered By Lawmakers
Despite a year's worth of highly publicized security breaches and a lot of talk in Congress this summer on ways to protect consumers, there's been too little done to protect U.S. consumers' data, Gartner research director Avivah Litan says.


3. Breaking News

Symantec Bug Not Likely To Be Hit By Worm, Says Rival
Internet Security Systems said in an online alert that although the vulnerability is serious, the likelihood of the flaw being leveraged by a worm is "low."

IBM Exec Says Microsoft Standards Plan Has 'Bizarre Restrictions'
The document format that Microsoft submitted to ECMA is "not collaborative," among other issues, a rival charges.

Opera Denies Microsoft Buyout Rumors
The reports of a possible purchase follow last week's chatter that Google was interested in the Oslo-based firm. That, too, has been denied by Opera.

Los Alamos Employees Critical Of Lab Decision
One retired lab worker has started a blog with responses he's gotten to the lab's move to bring in an outside firm to help manage the facility.

FBI's Sentinel Should Go Forward Despite Shortcomings
The project is at risk because the FBI lacks a solid IT architecture plan, but it's also too important to wait, says a Government Accountability Office official.

California Agency Proposes Telecom-User Bill Of Rights
Among other things, the proposal calls for extensive consumer education and limits so-called noncommunications charges that telecom operators can charge customers.

Online Elves Busy With Blogs, E-Mails, Sleigh Tracking
It's not only the children E-mailing Santa Claus. The top five requests from adults include a relationship, a car, a house, a job and peace, according to one firm that provides E-access to the jolly old elf.

'Cheapskate' Online Shoppers Rule The Holidays
Out of the 1,047 online buyers polled by Bizrate, 62% thought it was better to recycle an old gift than throw it away.

AMD Acknowledges Desktop CPU Shortages
A letter Advanced Micro Devices sent to some partners, according to two sources, mentions the Athlon 64 3500, 3800, the dual-core X2 3800, and the lower-end Sempron 2600 and 2800 as being in tight supply.

Study: Newer Communications Tools Challenge E-Mail's Dominance
E-mail continues to be preferred in most workplaces and homes, but it's losing to instant messaging among teens and young adults and within certain fast-paced work environments where immediate communication is needed, IDC says.

Report: Outsourcing Market To Restructure
A number of trends are converging, the Everest Group says, including the coming of age of Indian suppliers and the shrinking of contract size and duration.

Q&A: IBM's Collaboration Chief Talks Domino, Workplace Game Plan
Mike Rhodin talks about Project Hannover--the next release of Lotus Notes/Domino--and game plans for Lotusphere, the annual user confab that in 2006 will serve as the launchpad for Workplace 2.6.

Tech Investment Analyst Bullish On 2006 Semiconductor Market
Mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, and some consolidation prompted by large diversified companies looking for successful fledglings to fill technology holes could make 2006 a good year for semiconductor technologies, a Jefferies Broadview analyst said.

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John Soat With 'The List'
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Laurie Sullivan With 'Locked On Santa'
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Tim Moran Is The 'Holiday Answer Man'
See who's getting a present from the Web Answer Man this holiday season.


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4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web

PluggedIn: Avoiding The Post-Holiday Online Shopping Blues (Reuters)
Shopping online from the comfort of your sofa may be convenient, but it can lead to hassles after the holiday purchases are delivered. As retailers set more strict return policies, unwanted gifts can cause headaches on both sides.

Microsoft Is Losing Some Of Its Elbow Room (Washington Post)
As software king's growth slows, rivals stake out their own territory.

French Lawmakers Endorse File-Sharing (AP)
A French government crackdown on digital piracy backfired Thursday as lawmakers rebelled by endorsing amendments to legalize the online sharing of music and movies instead of punishing it.


5. In Depth

Symantec, McAfee Problems May Lead To Sea Change In Antivirus Industry
Doubt is mounting about the antivirus industry's install-and-upgrade model, and Microsoft is preparing to enter the market. Combine that with vulnerabilities in popular antivirus software, and the market is ripe for a shift.

Indian Firm Claims Its Antivirus Software Stops Threats
Sanra Software says it has breakthrough antivirus technology based on the intention of malicious codes, which protects PCs from not only known viruses but also from unknown malicious codes and hackers.

Symantec Says Vulnerability Hits 63 Products
The number of products is among the largest ever for a single vulnerability and demonstrates the risk of reusing code in a large group of programs.

Bug Bites McAfee Antivirus
A security research firm says McAfee's antivirus line is vulnerable to attack, the second such warning issued about antivirus software in two days.

Forecast 2006: Hackers May Hit Mobile Devices, Cisco Routers, Microsoft Vista
Malware has thrived on PCs and servers, but Symantec expects hackers to go after new types of devices, such as routers, switches, and backup systems, in the coming year.

Antivirus Vendors Struggle To Keep Up With Attacks
Infections are coming faster, and there are more of them every day, leaving antivirus vendors scrambling to fend off the attacks.


6. Voice Of Authority

Bracing For A Nation Of CrackBerry Addicts
I was chatting with a few people I'd just met at a holiday cocktail party, trying to do the infamous appetizer-plate-and-drink-glass balancing act, when one of them starts bemoaning his BlackBerry balancing act. He can never get away from work when he's home, he says, because he always has his BlackBerry. Uh-oh. Mary Hayes Weier explores our E-mail addiction and the driving forces behind it.


7. White Papers

One-On-One Laptop Initiatives
This paper will explore the goals behind one-to-one initiatives, the fundamental issues to consider before rolling out a program, and analysis of successful one-to-one programs that have transformed classrooms--and communities--using technology.


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