Social Security number code cracked, study claims

For all the concern about identity theft, researchers say there’s a surprisingly easy way for the tech-savvy to figure out the precious nine digits of the Social Security numbers of Americans knowing only their state and date of birth, reports the Associated Press — an announcement that provides another reason for students and others to be careful about what information they post on their social-networking profiles. "It’s good that we found it before the bad guys," said Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who–along with colleague Ralph Gross–reported in the July 7 edition of "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" that they were able to make the predictions using data available in public records, as well as birth dates and other information cheerfully provided on social networks such as Facebook. For people born after 1988–when the government began issuing numbers at birth–the researchers were able to identify, in a single attempt, the first five Social Security digits for 44 percent of individuals. And they got all nine digits for 8.5 percent of those people in fewer than 1,000 attempts. For smaller states, their accuracy was considerably higher than in larger ones. Acquisti said he has sent the findings to the Social Security Administration and other government agencies, with a suggestion they adopt a more random system for assigning numbers…

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