Thoughts on Identity Theft, Government IT, Facebook and Google Plus

July 20, 2011 at 6:58 am Leave a comment

By Mary Ludloff

Before I begin, I must admit to being in a very grumpy mood which may (ever so slightly) color the topics in the post title. As you know, Terence and I are not only “work-working” but in our copious amounts of spare time, working on our book (plug fully, absolutely intended). While the book is going well, I must say that it has affected my Zen-like ability to remain calm (I can hear Terence chortling) when others may “lose it.” This leads me (you’ll understand in a minute) to the issue of identity theft.

Earlier this morning I made the mistake of answering my home phone because I heard a phrase that is galvanized to get anyone to pick up: “This is insert-name-of-bank insert name-of-credit-card calling and I need to talk with you about possible identify fraud.” (Now, for those of you who are regular readers of this blog you may remember a post on Capital One and credit card fraud detection. To be fair, the company was not Capital One.) Long story short: There was no problem with my credit card. No, they just wanted to sell me their version of an Equifax-like product. What is wrong with this picture? So many things:

  • The irony that a credit card company would be calling me about subscribing to an identity fraud service. I mean, isn’t that what all their fraud detection analytics is supposed to be doing in the first place? Protecting my data and preventing fraudulent credit transactions?
  • The deceptive telemarketing practice of the use of FUD to scare me into picking up the phone and then, throughout the conversation, trying to bully me into buying their service.
  • The fact that, in this day and age, when there is so much professional information about me out there I should be the very last person anyone would call because I am in marketing (never market to a marketer) and because I write about data privacy and security ALL THE TIME.

Now I will not bore you with the conversation I had with the telemarketer, or with that person’s manager. But for those of you who know me well, you can probably imagine what was said. Instead, I will say this: the best defense against identity theft is for each one of us to understand the data security issues that arise when we use any of our devices to surf, buy, fill-in-the-blank online. Good strong passwords—different for every account—are a beginning. But there’s much more that you can do so please search on our data security tag and read all those posts before you decide to subscribe to any service. Finally, I don’t have a problem with Equifax-like solutions as I am a card carrying Equifax member. What I do mind are the tactics this particular company used to try and get me to buy a service from them.

Did you know that the government has 12,000 major computer systems and some 2,000 data centers? According to outgoing Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, that’s way too many. (He recommends consolidating down to three major data centers.)  Although in the business world the CIO pretty much has control of the IT infrastructure and is an active participant in solution evaluations, purchasing decisions, etc., it does not quite work that way in the federal government (surprise!):

“Kundra said the reason the federal system ‘defied logic’ is partly due to how funding is allocated. There isn’t a single committee in Congress devoted to technology, a committee ‘that’s thinking about these issues horizontally,’ he said.”

Kundra also points out that the procurement process is so broken that only a few IT contractors get most of the business and it’s not because they provide better technology. We talk a lot about big data and the power of analytics in this blog. Perhaps it’s time to develop an analytics solution designed to identify wasteful spending by our federal government and do our part (unlike either party in the legislature) to help reduce the deficit. Who’s with us on this? Seriously, if you have some ideas call or email us because we certainly have the Analytics Platform!

As regular readers know, I don’t use Facebook because I keep my private life offline. However, grumpy as I am, this article about Facebook not allowing anyone to advertise their Google Plus profile on their Facebook page made me laugh. It looks like some social media competition is in the offing which is good for the industry as competition tends to make all solutions in any space that much better. If you’re curious about my view of Google Plus, I will be setting up my profile over the next month. I think that the Circles features may allow me to develop professional circles of colleagues (admittedly, some of them are also friends) and have in depth discussions and a sharing of resources around more specific areas of interest (the interest groups on LinkedIn don’t quite do this for me). I will keep you all in the loop as I take my Google Plus test drive.

By the way, our engineering team is already brainstorming about the pool of data that Google Plus will open up as it scales, the ways in which it can be aggregated, and how much “fun” (to the engineering team, this is like winning the Lotto) they’re going to have performing time-series and exploratory analysis on all that lovely data. (I have to admit that I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with!) Look for Terence to post about this very thing in the next couple of weeks.

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics, General Business, Technology. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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