Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Staying Offline Won't Keep Information Safe

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Staying Offline Won't Keep Information Safe

Article excerpt

Received the following from George Friedman, a former executive vice president of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in response to the item in a recent column about one man's interphobia - - fear of the Internet -- and his aversion to doing any financial transactions online.

"Regarding the reader reluctant to go online to do pretty much anything with sensitive info, I add a reason TO use the Web," wrote Friedman, whose independent agency regulates the securities industry.

"It is much harder for a rogue broker to fake statements and such online," he said. "Madoff produced fake PAPER forms he sent in the mail. So did other fraudsters in the past. Faking a website and having it match to the phony paper statements is much, much harder if not impossible."

We also heard from Chris Deserio of Rutherford, who works in the computer/technology field.

"You can tell your reader, James, just because he does not do 'anything financial online' that he is really no safer than people who do everything online," Deserio wrote.

"Most of the major security breaches (Target, TJ Maxx, etc.) had nothing to do with online purchases; the hackers/thieves were able to gain access to the company through their computer network, but had nothing to do with using their website," he said.

That means that unless James is completely off the grid, which he obviously is not, that information he is working so hard to guard could be stolen at any time.

It could be through his company's payroll provider, his health care provider, his doctor's office, or his bank even if he does not make online purchases, Deserio said.

"Unfortunately, too many people have access to our Social Security number."

By refusing to use his employer's website, he is not protecting himself in any way because the company has most likely loaded or given this website access to employee information, including Social Security number, and his providing the number online to the site is just for authentication purposes to prove he is that individual, Deserio said. …

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