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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

You re not Paris, but you can get there

When it comes to identity theft, if you re not Paris Hilton or Fred Durst, don t sweat it.

You don t have as much to lose.

The truth is that hackers are generally more interested in very easy targets, and/or high-profile targets. If you fall somewhere in between, then the law of averages has blessed you.

A paper shredder, an anti-virus program, and a personal firewall will go a long way. If you lack these basic tools, bad things can happen if hackers and other criminals stumble across you.

But since Christina Aguilera s cell phone number is more sought after by the general public than Aunt Helen s, you re in good shape.

Consider some recent hacking situations:

• Paris Hilton s T-mobile network was hacked to mine data from her Sidekick smartphone. More than 500 e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and photos were lifted and posted on the Internet.

• Limp Bizkit s Fred Durst was robbed of video footage showing the singer romping with a former girlfriend. Durst s home computer was hacked for the footage, which was then offered for sale.

• The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently got a demonstration of how easy it is to hack into a utility s Internet-based management system and wreck havoc on equipment. The vulnerability is based on companies that have transferred control of equipment from private internal networks to supervisory control, or SCADA systems, that can be accessed through the Internet or by phone lines. The greater efficiency to operate technology remotely is offset by the ability of hackers.

• More than 100 applicants to Harvard s business school recently followed a hacker s instructions and visited the school s Web site to check out acceptance decisions. This curiosity and initiative was deemed an ethics violation and resulted in the rejection of the applications. A hacker had described finding identification numbers in source code on the university s public Web site, and then explained how to add the numbers to the site s Web address, revealing a page with the admissions decision.

• ChoicePoint s database was not breached by hackers, by rather criminals who were able to trick the risk assessment information company into believing they were legitimate business operators.

Identity thieves gained 145,000 names, addresses and credit reports. ChoicePoint executives are currently testifying before a Senate committee on issues of identity theft and the security of sensitive consumer information.

Keep an eye out for pharming, too. Pharming is a twist on phishing, where perpetrators redirect people from legitimate Web sites to fake ones and then prompt them to hand over their usernames and passwords. Always check your IP address and make sure you ve ended up at the correct site with a lock icon.

Banks and retailers sell services, but mainly they sell customers on trust. So when rampant identity theft on the internet erodes trust, you can see what the major obstacle is to fully getting a customer s attention online.

You are still more likely to be scammed by a lo-tech garbage theft of your personal information than through a hack.

But you should feel better about your odds since the market for your cell number directory is decidedly smaller than the market for Paris Hilton s.

China s take on the Internet at a United Nations conference last week in Geneva:

"The international management of Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations," Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang said.

China s take on the Internet according to its Xinhua news agency the same week:

"China said that it will toughen its already rigid censorship of the Internet during its annual parliamentary session to check those with ulterior motives. " "Xinhua said there would be strict 24-hour monitoring of Internet chatrooms and forums of major Chinese portals by security guards. "

China is expected to have 120 million Internet users by the end of this year.

Only 94 days remaining before the June 18 Grandma s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Weekend 10-mile split runs remain a toggle between a toasty 5-mile run inside on the treadmill, followed by a frosty 5-mile run outside after the temperatures have rocketed up to 19 degrees. We quit complaining after noting that the Sunday high in Duluth was negative 4 degrees.



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