By now everyone knows, or should, that anything on the Web is susceptible to misuse or abuse. Personal information (such as social security numbers and credit card information) should not be posted to untrustworthy sites. With people relying more and more on digital media, internet fraud and identity theft are on the rise. This is to be expected as criminals will inevitably find ways to perpetrate their crimes. But what of the information that is not released by private individuals?
Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other health care entities have access to all manner of sensitive information. Much of this information is far less secure than patients would like to believe. Millions of Americans have their information stolen, sold, or merely left ‘unattended’ in information data bases. And companies are loath to admit to this publicly (understandably so!).
Entire metropolises, whose budgets are notoriously lacking in funds for everything, find themselves barely keeping pace with the ever-evolving world of tech. Computers are purchased in bulk, often with more attention to the bottom line than their lifespan. The software added to them makes interdepartmental use a snap. Such software will keep out most individuals, but is simple enough to crack for someone with more determination and a decent computer.
Large amounts of money spent on updated hardware with the latest software means little when security is at a minimum. Even large corporations that spend millions on securing their systems against both internal and external threats are susceptible to incursions. World-wide package courier service UPS had their system hacked at several of their branch locations. Similar breaches have been reported from AOL, eBay, Target, and many other businesses across the globe.
Considered a symptom of modern times, such incidents cause only a minor stir. What is truly frightening about these incidents is that they suggest weaknesses in other systems. Libraries, museums, schools, and small businesses are all susceptible. Updated security can help to prevent intrusions into the system. Proper cataloguing can aid in sorting useful information from false information. Additionally, cleaning and updating files can ensure that old data is removed when need be or otherwise kept out of the hands of information seekers.
Dedicated record-keeping is key to anticipating and preventing security breaches.
Photo credit: CC licensed by Flickr user elhombredenegro