Alessandro Acquisti (Ph.D. 2003, MIMS 2001), associate professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, has released a major study about the Social Security numbering system and potential privacy vulnerabilities. The study says that it may be possible to predict a person's Social Security number based only on their date and place of birth, and discusses the implications for identity theft.
Acquisti's research was featured in a New York Times article by journalist John Markoff (the I School's 2009 commencement speaker).
The New York Times
July 7, 2009
By John Markoff
The nation’s Social Security numbering system has left millions of citizens vulnerable to privacy breaches, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, who for the first time have used statistical techniques to predict Social Security numbers solely from an individual’s date and location of birth.
The findings, published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are further evidence that privacy safeguards created in the era before powerful computers and ubiquitous networks are increasingly failing, setting up an “architecture of vulnerability” around personal digital information, the researchers said....