America’s SSN Systems Aren’t Secure – But Few Alternatives Are Available

Social security numbers continue to be compromised — we need a solution

The fear associated with breaches has subsided.  As a nation, we have become entirely desensitized to this threat, making news of the latest security breach nothing but more significant than today’s weather.  We have accepted this as a way of life, thanks to our increasingly digital society.  The more technology we introduce into our lives, the more likely we are to share personal data within that technology.  Unfortunately, those applications, programs, networks, or devices are not always secure.  According to NBC News, 158 million American’s have had their social security numbers compromised.  Exposing this data compromises our ability to file taxes, apply for lines of credit, open bank accounts, enroll in school, and apply for Medicare.

Knowing this method of identification is no longer secure, one would think an alternative would be established.  Or perhaps even an add-on to existing technology to enhance the security of what we already have.  But, it has not.

There have been suggestions of a smart card implementation.  This would replace your paper social security card with a plastic version that also has a security chip, similar to what is on current debit and credit cards.  However, in order to deploy this technology, each institution would have to have readers for the cards.  It is believed implementing these new systems would be far too costly.

There are also beliefs this security concern falls short on the government’s list of “to-dos”.  With other cyber security threats looming, and politicans who pushed for increased security measures leaving office, the sense of urgency has since subsided.

Long story short, there’s a problem — and there doesn’t appear to be a viable solution.

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6 thoughts on “America’s SSN Systems Aren’t Secure – But Few Alternatives Are Available

  1. Has anybody read the SS documents…. when I got mine – a very looong time ago – it plainly states the SS number WAS NOT TO BE USED FOR IDENTIFICATION!
    I agree it’s fraught with fraud – caused by laziness of agencies need a quick form of ID.

  2. SSNs have been unsecured going back decades. At one time, military SNs were the same as the SSN. And some states used the SSN as the driver’s license number. Add to that the transactions behind the barber shop for illegal aliens to get IDs, and you’ve got a mess. This was long before the computer, which has accelerated the problem geometrically. Several numbers are duplicated, and that drives the folks at the SSA nuts when there is more than one person using the same number. Employers who hire individuals based upon fraudulent IDs are subject to fines, etc., even though the fraud was perpetrated on them! A possible fix for this situation would be to designate SSNs for non-citizens with a “FN” prefix or suffix. This would reduce population of potential fraudulent numbers involving foreign nationals.

  3. I propose the solution for funding the smart card option could be offer a tax credit to all SS recipients for the amount contributed toward the fix.

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