Misplacing the Blame in Personal Identity Thefts
Really good article:
In a recent dissection of the connection between gaming and violence, the term “folk devil” was used to describe something that can be labeled dangerous in order to assign blame in a case where the causes are complex and unclear. The new paper suggests that hackers have become the folk devils of computer security, stating that “even though the campaign against hackers has successfully cast them as the primary culprits to blame for insecurity in cyberspace, it is not clear that constructing this target for blame has improved the security of personal digital records.”
Part of this argument is based on the contention that many of the criminal groups that engage in illicit access to records are culturally distinct from the hacker community and that the hacker community proper is composed of a number of subcultures, some of which may access personal data without distributing it.
But, even if a more liberal definition of hacker is allowed, they still account for far less than half of the data losses. The report states that “60 percent of the incidents involve missing or stolen hardware, insider abuse or theft, administrative error, or accidentally exposing data online.”
Those figures come from analyzing the data while eliminating a single event, the compromise of 1.6 billion records at Axciom. The Axciom data loss is informative, as it reveals how what could be categorized as a hack involves institutional negligence. The records stolen from the company were taken by an employee that had access to Axciom servers in order to upload data. That employee gained download access because Axciom set the same passwords for both types of access.