I’ve been reading everywhere that the world is going to end on December 21st of 2012. Apparently, the Aztecs decreed this back when they were still in power, and now everybody is up in arms – it’s the end of the world as we know it, apparently. But until the apocalypse, we have another year of identity theft to be concerned about (and if the Aztecs happened to be wrong, we’ll probably be looking at more of the same in 2013, but for now let’s just try to get through this year.)
Turning a discerning eye toward the coming year, I researched what some of the top authorities in the fields of data security and identity theft were talking about, because they have their fingers on the pulse of the industry, and are usually in the forefront when it comes to helping make new policies and address the issues surrounding identity theft.
Kroll Fraud Solutions is possibly the oldest and most well-respected company when it comes to assessing financial risks, and when it comes to identity theft most of us think first about our bank accounts and credit cards. This year they have published 10 key points that will be important in the field of identity theft.
They forecast that high technology will continue to grow as a risk for the average consumer. Mobile technologies like our cell phones and tablet computers are expected to continue to move forward faster than the protections for them. Knowing how to protect your cell phone from identity theft will become more important. They also expect that data breaches related to cloud computing will flourish as that technology becomes more and more common in the business world. And of course as social media such as Facebook continues to boom, identity thieves are expected to find new ways to exploit our friends list and the information we post publicly to target individuals in phishing scams. Privacy concerns related to geolocation services are also highlighted in Kroll’s picture of 2012. This deals with the GPS installed in our cars and cell phones. While Kroll expects that privacy concerns will move companies to adopt an opt-in policy (or at the very least have some sort of customer consent,) there are conspiracy theories that would have us to believe that the government push will be to make RFID technology even more prevalent, specifically to track the movements of citizens. (By the way, this conspiracy theory is global in scale, so it doesn’t just apply to Americans.) Only time will tell which direction things will go, but it may be something to keep an eye on in the news.
Something of interest to business owners and CEOs is the fact that Kroll’s outlook for 2012 has a lot to do with business practices and data breaches. For example, companies are expected to start paying more attention to their network security logs:
Security incidents have increased in sophistication and frequency in recent years and one of the most effective modes of response involves maintaining complete logging for the network and key applications. While historically undervalued, logging provides vital information that can be utilized for analysis of network activities and documentation of security incidents.
More, despite regulatory requirements from the Federal government, companies are expected to still miss key vulnerabilities in 2012. This has much to do with what Kroll have termed “checklist mentality”, overlooking the fact that “a number of data security regulations overlook basic IT security controls….” On the up-side, Kroll anticipates that incident response teams will transform from the stop-gap model they generally have today to a more proactive team involved in day-to-day operations. They also mention a potential move in businesses to outsourcing incidence response to third-party companies. This makes a lot of sense, because it would allow identity theft and data security experts to handle data breaches and incidents of identity theft, instead of the standard model currently in use, which is trying to get current employees to learn about data security and identity theft, and tasking them with keeping information secure on top of their other job responsibilities.
Speaking of government regulations, Kroll anticipates that there will evolve a more prevalent sharing of information between government and private-sector. From an identity theft perspective, this makes a lot of sense, since our lives are becoming more and more at risk through data breaches. But the ultimate solution will most likely represent a complete lack of privacy. This will represent the most delicate balance to maintain as we move forward, not just through 2012, but in the decades to come.
Assuming, of course, that the world doesn’t end like the Aztecs predicted.