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You’ve Been Cloned

We no longer need biology to clone people. Electronics will do nicely. Hieu Minh Ngo, an enterprising young citizen of Vietnam, has just been arraigned in New Hampshire for posing as a private investigator from Singapore and offering an underground service that provided clients with identity information including social security numbers that were available from Court Ventures, an Experian subsidiary that provides access to court records, as well as from US Info Search, a firm that provides identity verification information. While it is unknown how many identities were breached, the likely count is in the millions.


How many databases hold shards of information about you? Start with what you have published openly on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and similar social sites. Then add the information saved by companies with which you do business, electronically or face-to-face, such as credit cards, purchases, preferences, and the like. Then add all the companies that gather data from them, collate it into records about you they sell to others regarding your financial, criminal, shopping, and charitable history. Then add all the medical data held by your doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and record collating firms. Then add all the data retained by educational institutions you attended about your grades, disciplinary problems, test scores, diplomas, and other achievements. Then add all the data held by your employers such as salary, performance, retirement accounts, automatic deposit accounts, and tax information. Then add all the information local, state, and federal governments maintain on your driving, marital history, criminal record, real estate, tax, travel, and so many other aspects of your life. And who knows what the NSA has gotten ahold of? With such rich sources, who needs your DNA?


In Jurassic Park they needed DNA preserved in amber for eons to clone dinosaurs. On the internet they only need a few SQL injections and big data analytics to fully clone you. Integrate the medical data with the pictures you posted on Facebook, tie it to a 3D printer, and presto — instant you.


Now add the driver’s license, social security, and passport data held by government agencies and presto — you can pass through security. Now add financial, educational, and employment data, and presto — your alter ego thrives. Who needs the witness protection program, just become whoever you want? On the run or just gone bankrupt, no problem, just become someone else with a clean record.


The bottom line is that unless we clean up the security weaknesses in software that maintains personal information, we are headed for an IDENTITY HOLOCAUST. Anyone who has been affected by credit card fraud or identity theft has already experienced the nightmare. And it will be worse next time. In the late 1990s the world attacked the Y2K problem with a vengeance so that civilization as we know it would not end at midnight. We need the same internationally-coordinated determination to harden the software that defends our electronic identities.


Wow, you just texted me from Sydney, but didn’t I just see you over at………

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