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Last update: 2007-10-22

When Breaches Go Unreported

2007-10-22 :: Aaron Titus

Despite data breach notification laws across the country, many breaches just simply go unreported. We need changes in our legal systems to help shape market forces in behalf of privacy. SSNBreach.org was designed to help push market forces in favor of privacy.

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Enemy of the State II

2007-10-05 :: Aaron Titus

Senator Benjamin Cardin has been kind enough to respond to my objections after a disturbing run-in with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March, 2007. After months of prodding in my behalf, his office finally received a letter from DHS that purported to address my case. In reality, the letter was a complete side-step of the issues, which is not really surprising. So, I made a couple of direct requests to the Senator.

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Louisiana Board of Regents Breach

2007-07-17 :: Aaron Titus

In late June, 2007 I discovered almost 200 files with personal information for 200,000 Louisianans, including 163,000 Social Security Numbers. The files were on a Louisiana State Board of Regents website that appeared to be an internal network, placed online without passwords in some areas.
I am working with the Liberty Coalition to launch SSNBreach.org, where affected individuals can search for their names to find out if they were affected by this, or future information breach.

SSNBreach.org :: Search for your name- were you affected? Liberty Coalition :: Organization sponsoring ssnbreach.org Board of Regents Advisory :: Board of Regents Press Release Board of Regents Breach :: Blog entry on the Breach Louisiana Board Of Regents Acknowledges Security Breach :: First WDSU Story La. Security Breach Exposes Thousands To ID Theft :: Second WDSU Story Board of Regents :: Home Page

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Something to Hide

2007-05-22 :: Aaron Titus

When people say, "I have nothing to hide," they really mean, "I am not ashamed of anything." The truth is, we all have a lot to hide, and shame is just one of many reasons to keep information private or confidential. Having something to hide is not an admission of guilt, and it does not mean you have anything to be ashamed of.
We keep Social Security Numbers private not because we are ashamed of the number, but because we fear identity theft. Sometimes medical conditions remain confidential because others may react irrationally to them.
Privacy is the recognition that individuals and institutions act unreasonably and irresponsibly to the detriment of individuals and society, when in possession of truthful facts. Humans are biased.

Georges Seurat-La Parade :: The most instructive visualization of privacy I've seen.

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Enemy of the State

2007-03-14 :: Aaron Titus

In the context of a recent international trip, this podcast is about three things: First, the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to track the movement of United States citizens once they arrive in the country. Second, useless security tactics that harm freedom of movement and privacy without increasing security, and third, a growing culture of lawlessness and intimidation, as a result of expanding executive power, in the name of National Security.

Example Customs Declaration Form :: I refused to fill out lines 4(a) and (b), my destination street address. Front of Form 6059B :: An informational image from cpb.gov, showing the Declarations form Back of Form 6059B :: An informational image from cpb.gov, showing the Declarations form Pl@stic Soul :: Music today is 001-1 Acoustic Guitar, by Pl@stic Soul.

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The MIB: Medical Division

2007-02-20 :: Aaron Titus

Long before Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones hit the screen as intergalactic secret agents, the MIB was amassing storehouses of medical information. The Medical Information Bureau maintains a sort of Medical Credit Report on roughly 20% of the United States Population.

Medical Information Bureau :: Founded in 1902, the MIB gaters medical data to fight insurance fraud. Request your MIB Record (at your own risk) :: Call (866) 692-6901 for the automated request, but beware- they will ask you for a ton of personal information. MIB Customer Service Number :: Tucked away deep within the website, their customer service number is (781) 751-6003 The Tiler :: Music today is My Aunt, by The Tiler

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Social Security Numbers and Transcripts

2007-02-05 :: Aaron Titus

Though most colleges and universities no longer use the Social Security Number as the Student ID, financial, lending, and some hold-out colleges regrettably use the SSN as a convenient, but unnecessary identifying number. Because of the sensitive nature of the SSN, a few states, including New York, have outlawed placing the Social Security Number on official University documents, including transcripts; professionals and government officials uniformly warn of the dangers of disseminating a SSN. Notwithstanding, a student's name, Social Security Number, and birth date appears on a distinct minority of nationally ranked school's transcripts and students are not given the option to hide this sensitive information.

January 2007 Survey of Nationally Ranked University Registrars :: By January 2007, only ¼ of nationally ranked universities placed student SSNs on their transcripts, without allowing students to hide or withhold it. 2003 AACRAO National Registrar Survey :: In 2003, more than ¾ of national colleges & universities reported using the SSN on transcripts, to AACRAO. AACRAO :: The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers The Tiler :: Music today is Zoomin Home, by The Tiler.

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Wireless Medical ID Theft

2007-01-08 :: Aaron Titus

Identity thieves use many tactics to gather sensitive personal information. Some check your mailbox. Others dumpster-dive. But now a more sophisticated identity thief might be found slowly cruising medical park parking lots with a laptop. This episode explores the risks to your medical and personal data when your family doctor sets up a wireless network improperly.

JCAHO- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations :: This organization fields complaints on HIPAA violations

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Overcoming Institutional Privacy Inertia

2006-12-01 :: Aaron Titus

We trust private organizations and corporations with massive amounts of private data on a regular basis. While recognizing a vague moral obligation to protect their members, many organizations take only minimal steps to protect privacy. The reason is simple: Privacy violations are low-cost, and low-risk. This episode explores one case study of overcoming internal organizational inertia in favor of privacy.

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The Education Department Student Surveillance Program

2006-11-18 :: Aaron Titus

If the Education Department Secretary, Margaret Spellings, has her way, next year every college student across America will be forced to participate in the largest student surveillance program in the history of the country. Whether students have Federal loans or not, they will be forced to hand over SSN, DOB, location, courses, majors, GPA, and a host of other very sensitive data to a centralized federal database. The goal: Create more accurate college rankings for parents, students, and congress. This database will also be available to congress and the Department of Homeland Security for fighting terrorism. Regardless of the intent, this program is a cure that is worse than the disease.

National Center for Education Statistics Committee Report :: A 2005 National Center for Education Statistics Committee Report, urging the adoption of a Unit Record system, or complete student surveillance. AOL Search Records Database :: Demonstration that anonymizing records is not a solution to keeping identifications safe.

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Privacy As a Social Movement

2006-11-03 :: Aaron Titus

Imagine a world without privacy. In this not-so-fictitious world, explore realistic scenarios of how cutting the wrong person off in traffic could get you arrested, how calling overseas can land you on a terrorism watch list, or buying a gallon of milk could threaten your credit. With standing on both sides of the political ideological divide, it is surprising that Privacy does not get more political traction, especially in this charged election season. Despite the government and private sector affirmatively eroding privacy rights of large classes of people, privacy has not yet caught on as a major social movement. Privacy advocates must spur a debate about what role privacy should play in our democratic society.

Privacy Tips :: Privacy tips from privacyrights.org

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Cell Phone Privacy

2006-10-23 :: Aaron Titus

Now that you have graduated from high school, your text messages are probably a bit more sophisticated than: cya l8r @ Strbks lol :-P g2g. …or perhaps not.
As it turns out, people text message about just about everything—from confidential business arrangements, to extramarital affairs. Where do all of those text messages go? Well, nowhere. They stay right on your cell phone… even after you have deleted them, and sold your phone to someone else.

Strong Bad E-mail: "Technology" :: The ever-venerable Strong Bad, animated by the Brothers Chaps, imparts wisdom on technology and cell phones. Foley.com :: September 2006 Privacy Report by DC law firm, Foley.

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The Internet 101 and Internet Privacy

2006-10-15 :: Aaron Titus

Repeat after me: The internet is NOT a fuzzy cloud. The "fuzzy cloud" picture was developed by a group of wannabe techies who were looking for job security by keeping the rest of us in the dark. The internet is an actual, real-life wire, actually buried in the ground. It might be fiber optics or copper, but the internet is simply a wire. You are now smarter than 25% of your peers- which makes this an extremely efficient podcast.
Armed with this understanding, you will be able to sort out the real and bogus threats to privacy online.

Your Accreditation Certificate :: Proudly print and display this certificate once you've listened to this podcast NOT The Internet :: The Internet is NOT a fuzzy cloud. And don't forget it. The Internet (For Real) :: This is the Internet. It's actually a real, live wire, buried in the ground. "ping" and "tracert" :: Using these two functions, you can learn a lot about packets, routers, and IP addresses.

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Privacy Policy Snares and Junk Mail

2006-10-05 :: Aaron Titus

Perhaps you've actually taken time to read a so-called "privacy policy" or two. If you've read closely, you might have noticed that most privacy policies are more akin to "waivers," than a guarantee of rights. The usual result is Junk mail.
This podcast will discusses how to avoid common privacy policy snares and junk mail.

Opt Out Prescreen :: Official consumer credit reporting industry opt-out website Junk Busters :: Good advice on avoiding Junk Mail Maryland Property Tax Code § 2-211 :: Proof that homeownership thwarts the fight for privacy Podsafe Network :: A collection of independent artists' music available for podcasting The Freesound Project :: A collection of sounds available under a public license Stonewashed :: A collection of sounds and sound effects

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University Identity Security- Part 3 Rebroadcast

2006-09-15 :: Aaron Titus

Part Three of three parts exploring Identity Security at our Nation’s Universities.

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University Identity Security- Part 2 Rebroadcast

2006-09-01 :: Aaron Titus

University of Idaho, and University of Alabama, Birmingham representatives posted sensitive information online about their students in excel files. Join Aaron Titus to review these case studies, and learn helpful tips on how to protect your identity along the way.

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University Identity Security- Part 1 Rebroadcast

2006-08-15 :: Aaron Titus

Universities maintain very private records about students’ finances, health records, location, SSN, and other personal data, often for decades after the students attend. Yet every week, about 60,000 identities are reported compromised from university databases nationwide; mostly at the hands of hackers, thieves, dishonest insiders, or human error. While universities spend millions on information security, this show identifies several common behaviors that put your identity at risk.

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The Privacy Podcast

Privacy Expert Aaron Titus offers practical advice on how to keep your identity secure.

The Privacy Podcast

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