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Archive for June, 2007

Identity Resolution week in review!

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Here’s a recap of the great posts you might have missed this week! We don’t put lists like his together every week, so take advantage while you can.

Identity resolution and the goal of good data

Some interesting claims by Gareth Herschel, research director with Gartner, got us thinking. In a post on Data Management News Herschel muses about how and why an organization deploys solutions for getting useful data out of potentially huge databases. He says that before an organization gets too deep into data-mining, they should ask themselves several questions

Is privacy in the control of individuals or the businesses watching them?

The issue of personal-versus-corporate accountability is actually the underlying heart of our privacy-versus-security debate. Put another way, are individuals data-savvy enough to protect our own identity information, or can we trust Big Business to use data in responsible ways?

Who pays the cost of theft and fraud in retail? You do.

You may remember the old advertisement where a retailer says something to the effect of, “We buy in bulk and pass the saving on to YOU!” Consumers have been making use of that kind of price-cutting since the dawn of wholesale. But savings aren’t the only thing that get passed onto us; retailers’ expenses have to get payed for somehow, and revenue is the obvious answer.

Identity Resolution Daily’s greatest posts!

Missed some of the great posts here on Identity Resolution Daily? Well there’s no time like the middle of the week to catch up on some definitive reading on things like identity resolution, employee fraud, retail data and protecting your privacy. Here’s what you may have missed:

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2007-06-29

Friday, June 29th, 2007

[Daily Post from Infoglide Software] Identity resolution and the goal of good data

data.jpgFiguring out your needs for the data and controlling the flow of that data, through direct human contact and/or a well designed vertical search engine, will help ensure not only that you get “good data” but that you are protecting individuals’ rights to privacy.

OUT-LAW.COM: International effort on privacy protection is launched

“The new deal updates a 25 year old agreement on the upholding of privacy laws. A new deal was needed in order to guard against the privacy risks of the increasing amounts of personal data currently being sent from country to country.”

Mortgage Fraud: FBI issues 2006 Mortgage Fraud Report

“The Prieston Group, a risk management solutions provider that administers an insurance product covering losses due to fraud and misrepresentation, calculated that losses attributed to mortgage fraud will most likely reach $4.2 billion for 2006. This figure does not take into account another estimated $1.2 billion spent on fraud prevention tools.”

Javno.com: EU Backs Anti-Terror Deal with U.S. on Bank Data

“The European Union approved a deal on Wednesday setting conditions for the U.S. Treasury Department to consult records of the international banking network SWIFT in anti-terror probes, EU diplomats said.”

Identity resolution and the goal of good data

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Some interesting claims by Gareth Herschel, research director with Gartner, got us thinking. In a post on Data Management News Herschel muses about how and why an organization deploys solutions for getting useful data out of potentially huge databases. He says that before an organization gets too deep into data-mining, they should ask themselves several questions including:

  • What type of questions is an organization hoping to get answered with customer data mining?
  • Who is going to be asking those questions — analysts, business users or both?
  • How, and where, will the results of analysis be deployed into the business? Will they go into one specific application or potentially to many places — such as difficult call centers, point-of-sale or retail applications?
  • and

  • Where is the data? Is it all cleansed in a data warehouse or spread out in different data marts? What form is it in?

Sure, his focus is on customer data mining, but the same issues seem applicable to identity resolution. In retail, the goals of identity resolution might be screening current or future employees. Or it might be resolving the fraudulent identities of a repeat shoplifter. In other scenarios, identity resolution might have the goal of accurately targeting security threats, say among mass-transit passengers. The point is that understanding exactly what your goals are in acquiring the data puts you one step closer to responsibly using the data.

That notion of responsibility really speaks to Herschel’s other questions, and they all point to the question of privacy. Regardless of a business’ goals in acquiring data, the privacy of identities within the data should always be maintained. That’s why knowing answers to “who goes looking for the data” and “how will the data be deployed” are key to protecting the security of the information.

Understanding those issues is even more important if you plan on using (or selling) secondary data. As Bruce Schneier points out in a Wired post, legislation and technology should come together and do what they can to protect our rights in secondary data, but people play an important role too. He reminds us that

“It’s easy to build systems that collect data on everything - it’s what computers naturally do - but it’s far better to take the time to understand what data is needed and why, and only collect that.”

So while acquiring various kinds of data, especially resolving identities across multiple data sources, can be vital to a business’ success, a great burden rests on the shoulders of those doing the acquisition. Figuring out your needs for the data and controlling the flow of that data, through direct human contact and/or a well designed vertical search engine, will help ensure not only that you get “good data” but that you are protecting individuals’ rights to privacy.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2007-06-28

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

[Daily Post from Infoglide Software] Is privacy in the control of individuals or the businesses watching them?

The issue of personal-versus-corporate accountability is actually the underlying heart of our privacy-versus-security debate. Put another way, are individuals data-savvy enough to protect our own identity information, or can we trust Big Business to use data in responsible ways?

Scientific American: A Little Privacy, Please

“Several years ago Scott McNealy, chair­man of Sun Microsystems, famous-ly quipped, ‘Privacy is dead. Get over it.’ [Latanya] Sweeney couldn’t disagree more. ‘Privacy is definitely not dead,” she counters; those who believe it is “haven’t actually thought the problem through, or they aren’t willing to accept the solution.’”

Realtime IT Compliance: PII in PDF Metadata…Yes, It Can Happen When You Aren’t Looking!

“For example, when doing a search for “John Doe” (name obviously changed) within a PDF I found, the search results showed for each instance of John Doe within the PDF his home address, phone number, and email address. This was not visible if I was only just viewing the document, but it was visible within the search results; in the metadata.”

Is privacy in the control of individuals or the businesses watching them?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

In business terms, the title of this post might be “Who owns privacy protection?” In layperson terms, it might be “Hey, that’s none of your business, Business.” But the issue of personal-versus-corporate accountability is actually the underlying heart of our privacy-versus-security debate. Put another way, are individuals data-savvy enough to protect our own identity information, or can we trust Big Business to use data in responsible ways?

Since collecting the data isn’t necessarily wrong or illegal on its own, the burden of using that data responsibly is usually considered the responsibility of business. But it’s important to know what businesses are up against in searching data and what their goals are. The data is often used to understand previous behavior and, as Infoglide’s Scott Fitzgerald pointed out in an article on National Underwriter, it can be used to minimize future risk as well, both of which save us all money.

In discussing insurance fraud, Fitzgerald argues that

“Modeling based on historical claims is often effective, but it is not good at predicting future trends and can’t adapt to real-time changes in fraudster tactics.”

That kind of real-time adaptation depends on innovative data usage and is becoming absolutely imperative for organizations (whether insurance, financial, retail or the government) as criminals become more and more crafty in their use of technology. Bad guys want to get the data; businesses need the data to head off the bad guys.

A post on the sp!ked blog offers another interesting viewpoint on the debate. In it, Alex Taylor, a member of Microsoft’s Socio-digital Systems Group, suggests that privacy debates, and what he calls the “paranoia” surrounding them, often make concerned individuals seem like “cultural dopes scarcely capable of managing our self-presentation in public and private.”

He uses Microsoft’s Whereabouts Clock as an example of a technology that intruded on individual privacy to some degree but that people were happy to use for the sake of convenience, and because they were able to make smart decisions based on their understanding of how the data in the technology was being used.

Taylor says that those decisions are going to be the basis for real privacy protection. He argues that the trick is in

“designing technologies that reveal enough of their workings to allow people to make intelligent choices about when they might want to share and when they might want to keep things to themselves.”

Similarly, Fitzgerald claims that “the buildup of data across silos and applications” in business sometimes makes data usage difficult. However, his answer to Taylor’s question about technology hinges on data-searching tools that create risk scores instead of just revealing potentially sensitive data. That way, individuals can be sure that personal data isn’t just thrown around the business world and businesses aren’t able to improperly use (or even access) data that might compromise personal privacy.

What do our readers think? Who should be accountable in the privacy-vs-security debate? Leave a comment and let us know.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2007-06-27

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

[Daily Post from Infoglide Software] Identity Resolution Daily’s greatest posts!

Missed some of the great posts here on Identity Resolution Daily? Well there’s no time like the middle of the week to catch up on some definitive reading on things like identity resolution, employee fraud, retail data and protecting your privacy. Here’s what you may have missed:

PSFK: Privacy Concerns Overly Paranoid?

“The real innovations, it seems to me, should be concerned with designing technologies that reveal enough of their workings to allow people to make intelligent choices about when they might want to share and when they might want to keep things to themselves.”

National Underwriters P&C: Carriers Going High-Tech To Fight Fraud

“Insurers, according to industry professionals, are turning to claims scoring technologies to evaluate potentially fraudulent claims, and to predictive modeling to help identify in advance the types of claims that may be suspicious.”

Realtime IT Compliance: Surveillance and Managing Information With So Many Ways To Capture It

“Over the past few years I have visited many different client sites and facilities […] throughout a wide array of industries. There were glaring vulnerabilities with regard to this issue within virtually all of them. All had procedures, but they were not comprehensive and left much to the discretion of the visitor to reveal.”

Identity Resolution Daily’s greatest posts!

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Missed some of the great posts here on Identity Resolution Daily? Well there’s no time like the middle of the week to catch up on some definitive reading on things like identity resolution, employee fraud, retail data and protecting your privacy. Here’s what you may have missed:

The many meanings of data in the retail industry

Well, OK this post isn’t about the meanings of all data in retail, but there are a few specific ways that data is being used that have special relevance to us. Specifically, an article by Cathy Langley, director of loss prevention analytics for Rite Aid, about data-mining and exception reporting got us thinking about how crucial data is in the retail industry and, tragically, about how not everyone with a database (or databases) makes the most of the data they have. more…

Employees are walking out the front door with retailers’ profits

Organized shoplifters and employee fraud - often go hand-in-hand since the former regularly depends on the latter. Combined, they cost the entire retail industry roughly $41.6 billion last year, according to a joint study by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. more…

Getting ducks into rows: the complicated world of data synchronization

Information, especially the kind of data gathered by governments and enterprise-sized corporations, is often stored in lots of different places and in a variety of different formats. While this information age is definitely creating more information, it’s not necessarily putting that information in close reach. more…

A message from Mike Shultz about identity resolution

I’m the CEO of a software company, but I was a citizen before I was a CEO and I’ll be a citizen after I’m a CEO. And the citizen that I am sleeps fine at night knowing what I know about how the government is balancing identity resolution and privacy. The people we work with there take that balance very seriously, and so do I. more…

Identity Resolution Daily’s greatest posts!

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Missed some of the great posts here on Identity Resolution Daily? Well there’s no time like the middle of the week to catch up on some definitive reading on things like identity resolution, employee fraud, retail data and protecting your privacy. Here’s what you may have missed:

The many meanings of data in the retail industry

Well, OK this post isn’t about the meanings of all data in retail, but there are a few specific ways that data is being used that have special relevance to us. Specifically, an article by Cathy Langley, director of loss prevention analytics for Rite Aid, about data-mining and exception reporting got us thinking about how crucial data is in the retail industry and, tragically, about how not everyone with a database (or databases) makes the most of the data they have. more…

Employees are walking out the front door with retailers’ profits

Organized shoplifters and employee fraud - often go hand-in-hand since the former regularly depends on the latter. Combined, they cost the entire retail industry roughly $41.6 billion last year, according to a joint study by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. more…

Getting ducks into rows: the complicated world of data synchronization

Information, especially the kind of data gathered by governments and enterprise-sized corporations, is often stored in lots of different places and in a variety of different formats. While this information age is definitely creating more information, it’s not necessarily putting that information in close reach. more…

A message from Mike Shultz about identity resolution

I’m the CEO of a software company, but I was a citizen before I was a CEO and I’ll be a citizen after I’m a CEO. And the citizen that I am sleeps fine at night knowing what I know about how the government is balancing identity resolution and privacy. The people we work with there take that balance very seriously, and so do I. more…

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2007-06-25

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

[Daily Post from Infoglide Software] Who pays the cost of theft and fraud in retail? You do.

wallet.jpgAs organizations slowly realize why their profits are slipping, customers have to essentially pay a fraud-tax in the form of higher prices to offset the loss. Imagine what would happen to pricing and profits if an organization could leverage existing data and to combat shrinkage and fraud.

Kiplinger.com: U.S. to Fingerprint E.U. Visitors

“Border checks could also soon include other biometric data, such as facial and eye retina scans, as the U.S. upgrades security at its ports, airports and border crossings, said P.T. Wright, the operations director for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT Program.”

USATODAY.com: Credit bureaus fight consumer-ordered freezes

“The CDIA has been scrambling for two years to get federal lawmakers to defuse the onrush of state laws empowering consumers to freeze access to their credit histories to prevent identity theft. It spent a record $1.4 million on federal lobbying in 2006, nearly double what it spent in 2004, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

The Enquirer [Cincinnati] - 5/3 faces privacy suit

“He wants the lawsuit certified as a class-action on behalf of other consumers who might not know. Damages for a class-action lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act would be limited to $500,000 plus legal expenses, so the victims would probably get a nominal award if they win, Shane said, although anyone would be able to opt out of the class action.”

Who pays the cost of theft and fraud in retail? You do.

Monday, June 25th, 2007

You may remember the old advertisement where a retailer says something to the effect of, “We buy in bulk and pass the saving on to YOU!” Consumers have been making use of that kind of price-cutting since the dawn of wholesale. But savings aren’t the only thing that get passed onto us; retailers’ expenses have to get payed for somehow, and revenue is the obvious answer.

In the case of the expenses from retail fraud and theft, consumers are picking up the tab for nearly $41.6 billion in 2006 alone. That’s up from a 2005 National Retail Security Survey that placed the figure at $37.4 billion. If you add to that the annual cost of property/casualty insurance fraud and retail fraud, Americans spent over $600 a year per househould paying for theft and fraud.

Recently, we wrote about some of the expenses of employee fraud and theft. The focus in that post was that businesses have often collected huge amounts of data on the losses, but they aren’t using it. As that data accumulates over time, the analysis of it becomes even more difficult, especially without the right vertical search software. Consequently, it often sits and rots while the retailers mounts up losses.

For instance, a woman in Milwaukie, Oregon was recently arrested for defrauding Target for about $30,000 (reports Portland’s KATU.com). Her simple scheme of switching high-dollar price tags with “99-cent juice cup tags” was generating data at every transaction for a year or more. She has been banned from all Target stores, but enforcing that ban might prove tricky unless that point-of-sale data can be leveraged. But what if she goes to another city and/or uses a different identity? Target will have to make sure it can resolve those multiple identities and utilize potentially siloed data. Also, how many similar instances is Target (and retailers like them) missing?

A report on the UK’s The Retail Bulletin argues that “Retailers generate huge amounts of data yet few really leverage it effectively to support improved commercial decision making.” It’s what Jeff Jonas has called “enterprise amnesia,” which he explains happening when “an organization misses the obvious (e.g., when other relevant information is trapped elsewhere in their organization) and then takes incorrect action.” Then, as organizations slowly realize why their profits are slipping, customers have to essentially pay a fraud-tax in the form of higher prices to offset the loss. Imagine what would happen to pricing and profits if an organization could leverage existing data and to combat shrinkage and fraud.


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