Hackers Aren't Only Threat to Privacy
Sophisticated hackers aren’t the only ones gaining access to sensitive data on the Internet. A large amount of personal information is being left exposed or poorly protected by companies and governments.
The number of identity-theft victims in the U.S. jumped 12 percent to 11.1 million in 2009, according to research company Javelin Strategy & Research. Fraud cases reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is partly run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, climbed 23 percent to 336,655 last year.
Information that people inadvertently make public on sites like Facebook plays a role. So too do the sort of technical exploits demonstrated by the group that recently exposed a flaw in AT&T Inc.’s (T) website.
But in many cases, finding social-security and credit-card numbers or medical records on the Internet doesn’t require computer expertise. Instead, such information is accessible to anyone who knows where to look.