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Data Breaches Expose Flaws Of Using Social Security Numbers As Identifiers

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Social Security card.

Data Breaches Expose Flaws Of Using Social Security Numbers As Identifiers


Beth Givens, executive director, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse


The personal information of 145 million Americans was exposed in the Equifax data breach the company made public last month.

That personal information included addresses, birth dates and social security numbers.

This breach and similar ones have made apparent the flaws of using social security numbers as identifiers.

Beth Givens is the executive director of the San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. She joins Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss alternatives to using social security numbers as identifiers.

Those alternatives include biometrics, such as fingerprints, iris scans and palm prints, and blockchain technology, which uses encryption to create a digital signature. Givens said there are flaws with both of those options.

She said that to find a replacement, a lot more research would need to be done and the buy-in of lawmakers and the public would be needed.

In the meantime, Givens recommended companies use two-factor identification to identify individuals. An example of two-factor identification is how you access an ATM, you provide both your card and your pin number.


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