Hackers vs. Your Social Security Number

The nation's system of nine-digit personal identification numbers is not so secret, says a new study.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Your social security number is now a part of almost every form, including health insurance paperwork and the application for your library card. In fact, researchers reporting in this week's issue of the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used public data (hello, Facebook) to predict the first five digits of a person's social security number. And they got it right, on the first try, 44 percent of the time. With more on the dangers of our less-than-private individual identification system, The Takeaway is joined by privacy expert Peter Swire.

You can read more about the PNAS study by heading to the web site of our partners, The New York Times, and checking out today's article, Social Security Numbering System Vulnerable to Fraud, Experts Say.

"We have a known system that's leading to a lot of identity theft and will lead to a lot more identity theft. We probably have to suck it up as a society and get to a new system."
—Ohio State University professor Peter Swire


Peter Swire

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich


Molly Webster

Comments [1]

Richard Johnston

I'll let you know when this rises to a level of priority where I think it's worth worrying about.

Jul. 07 2009 09:22 AM

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