The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

CAT | Financial Institutions

Vendor of Stolen Bank Cards Hacked — Krebs on Security

Brian Krebs has an interesting blog post on how all of the credit card information was stolen by a hacker from a website that sells stolen credit cards.

This is in the “don’t know whether to laugh or cry” department.

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This article on The Consumerist reports that Capital One provides different car loan rates based on the browser you use when visiting their site. I suspect that there are some strong demographic trends among the users of various browsers. It would be interesting to see if they give different rates to the same browser in different states or zip codes.

Once again, evidence that “they” are using your personal information in way that may not be good for you.

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Wikileaks domain name yanked in spat over leaked documents | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET News.comDeclan does a really good job here of discussing a fascinating case. WikiLeaks is a Wiki based website designed to enable completely anonymous posting of tips and leaked documents. It is focused around enabling disclosure of information from repressive countries.A US court recently ordered WikiLeak’s domain name registrar to disable their domain name because of some documents on the site about questionable off shore banking activities by a group of Swiss bankers.The real shocker here is the draconian action against WikiLeaks prior to the resolution of the claim. It is also ineffective action because WikiLeaks is openly hosted under a number of domains in a number of different countries.I am very interested to see how this story develops and whether the injunction will stand up once the details of the offending materials become clear.

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As a followup to my discussion of risks of online tax filing, here is an article on security weaknesses at the IRS. Report: IRS bungles may imperil data
It does not appear that this is particularly connected to online filing, but rather an overall laxness in their security.

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The Motley Fool has a nice blog post on issues involved in electronic filing of tax returns.

There are a couple of important points to be made here. First of all…

  • The IRS has all your information and it will be in digital format (accessible by computer);
  • You are exposed to some points of vulnerability when filing electronically, rather than on paper;
  • The information on your PC is vulnerable to theft (whether you send it electronically or just use tax software);
  • Your information is vulnerable on the Internet-accessible servers to which you upload your data; but
  • On the flip side of the coin, paper returns are subject to loss, theft and mishandling as well, both in transit and within the IRS.

It is somewhat similar to using a credit card. You can risk online theft when conducting an e-commerce transaction, or real-world theft when handing over your card to a minimum wage worker over a store counter. Risks exist both ways.

At this time I think the jury is out on which is safer, but, for the record, I file electronically.

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