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Archive for Monday, January 29, 2001

Oh, pardon us!

January 29, 2001

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So far, there is no limit to the dangers of identity loss via the electronic networks.

Any wonder so many people are reluctant to get "online" for various transactions such as banking, shopping and travel bargains?

Many of us, even veterans of electronic communication, see increasing evidence of personal data being misused. They shudder at the prospect of what might happen if some details fall into criminal hands and minds.

For example, how many people in prisons who work for computer operations have ways of misusing information, now and later?

One of the latest indicators of how computerism retains a harrowing Wild West aspect is the fact that Travelocity.com, an online travel agency, says personal information for some 45,000 of its customers was inadvertently left accessible on its Web site for months. Officials admit the break exposed the names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of those who entered promotions between the past May and November. The data was left exposed by error but there is no telling what intrusions, thefts and harm occurred during the lapse. Or might still manifest themselves.

Travelocity people have gone to great lengths to draw a distinction between their foulup and a series of recent hacking incidents at Internet retailers, some of which exposed customers' credit card information. Last month, a hacker broke into Egghead.com, causing the technology retailer to notify about 3.5 million customers (that's million!) that their credit card identities might have been compromised.

With such errors being exposed so regularly, it's little wonder many people who have not conducted transactions on the Web are inclined to decline, and those who already are "in the mix" are quite concerned about what kind of danger will pop up next.

What is happening is that too many people who are not trained well enough are getting into the electronic transaction business and many trusting, innocent people could wind up paying a high price for their inadequacies.

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