Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

12/23/2005
01:53 PM
50%
50%

Social Security Numbers On The Justice Department'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 docum

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 me 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, Happy Holidays to all of InformationWeek's readers. I wish you all the best in the coming year.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8813
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
graph_realtime.php in Cacti 1.2.8 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands via shell metacharacters in a cookie, if a guest user has the graph real-time privilege.
CVE-2020-9039
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
Couchbase Server 4.x and 5.x before 6.0.0 has Insecure Permissions for the projector and indexer REST endpoints (they allow unauthenticated access).
CVE-2020-8860
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on affected installations of Samsung Galaxy S10 Firmware G973FXXS3ASJA, O(8.x), P(9.0), Q(10.0) devices with Exynos chipsets. User interaction is required to exploit this vulnerability in that the target must answer a phone call. T...
CVE-2020-8861
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows network-adjacent attackers to bypass authentication on affected installations of D-Link DAP-1330 1.10B01 BETA Wi-Fi range extenders. Authentication is not required to exploit this vulnerability. The specific flaw exists within the handling of HNAP login requests. The issue ...
CVE-2020-8862
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-22
This vulnerability allows network-adjacent attackers to bypass authentication on affected installations of D-Link DAP-2610 Firmware v2.01RC067 routers. Authentication is not required to exploit this vulnerability. The specific flaw exists within the handling of passwords. The issue results from the ...