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Archive for July, 2008

An Obligation to Protect: Crime on MySpace and Other Social Web Sites

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

By Douglas Wood, Infoglide Senior Vice President

It’s an almost unbelievable story. Or maybe I should say, as a parent, I’d like not to believe that this sort of thing happens. Unfortunately, it does all too often. By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Brooke Bennett who was found murdered after being abducted by her uncle, Michael Jacques.

At first, the case of missing Brooke Bennett appeared to be a story of an abduction by an Internet predator who befriended the 12-year-old Braintree girl through her MySpace page. But now prosecutors charge her abduction was planned by an uncle with a history of sex crimes who used Brooke’s MySpace page and a series of e-mails he sent using aliases to plan her abduction while deflecting attention from himself. . . . Jacques has a history of sex crimes dating to 1985 when he was charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl about 100 times. Prosecutors eventually dismissed that case. In 1993, Jacques was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping. An affidavit in the case said Jacques tied up the victim and threatened to kill her while he sexually assaulted her. He was sentenced to six to 20-years in prison, but he was released early because of the Department of Corrections’ ‘good time’ policy in effect at the time.

The children and teens of today are the most connected of any generation we’ve ever seen. They don’t remember a time when the Internet didn’t exist, and they are avid fans of Web 2.0.

The scary reality is that sexual predators are also big fans of social networking sites, chat rooms, and other online tools, which they use to find, target, and lure their victims. In today’s world of Internet anonymity, known sex offenders are able to easily mask their identity by hiding behind a screen name and fabricated personal information. Imagine if you could post a photo of a known child predator all over a school campus, but the minute you got his photo up he was able to modify his appearance so as to be unrecognizable. Scary. However, it happens all the time online. Sex-offenders make changes to their personally identifiable characteristics such as name, address, and phone number to hide their identity and continue to victimize.

It is paramount that social websites be able to identify and ban known sex-offenders. In the absence of a system and method for determining possible matches between user sign-on data and known sex-offenders, the safety of our children is compromised.

Identity resolution technology can be easily applied to match user attributes against publicly available sex-offender lists and immediately send a real-time alert to system administrators; thereby preventing perverts from posing a threat to children’s safety via the Internet. These sites have a moral obligation to do everything they can to protect their most vulnerable members. The technology exists to fulfill that obligation. All it takes now is the desire.

Check back next week to read about what the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is doing to keep kids safe.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-7-28

Monday, July 28th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

thespec.com: Charges of theft, fraud over lottery ticket

“A Mississauga man is facing fraud and theft charges for cashing in a $5.7-million winning lottery ticket that he allegedly stole from his customers at a Toronto variety store.”

b-eye.com - Business Intelligence Network - Blog: Jill Dyche: Jill Piles On: Microsoft Buys Datallegro and Zoomix

“The acqusition of Zoomix, announced last week, had been widely-rumored. . . . Yesterday’s acquistion of data warehouse appliance vendor DATAllegro was more of a surprise. The California company is best known in data warehouse circles as a ‘Teradata killer,’ because of its shared-nothing relational architecture and low price-point.”

CSOonline: Recession Woes: What People Steal

“During economic downturns, opportunistic theft increases along with organized retail crime, says Brad Brekke, vice president of assets protection for the Minneapolis-based Target retail chain. . . . Brekke’s predecessor, King Rogers, currently head of loss prevention consultancy King Rogers International, says organized retail theft (the mob-like version, as distinct from the problem of lone shoplifters) is a constant problem whatever the economy’s condition. But his experience is that the state of the economy does have an influence on how bad it is.”

PogoWasRight.org: Louisiana latest state to reject REAL ID

“Louisiana is the latest state to reject a federal identification card program intended as an anti-terror measure that is under criticism because of high costs and possible privacy risks.”

Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds: California Lottery Nails Dishonest Retailers

“When you cash in a small lottery prize at a lottery retailer, the amount might not exactly what you were were entitled to receive. On 7/1/08, the California Lottery announced that they are using undercover agents to sting dishonest retailers, who cheat lottery winners out of their prizes. The press release on this matter pointed to a case in Morgan Hill, California where a dishonest retailer (and another individual) are being charged with grand theft of lottery tickets ranging in value from $500 to $25,000.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-7-25

Friday, July 25th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

[Post from Infoglide] What’s in a (Company) Name?

“Matching company names in a database may seem like a simple task. HP is HP, right? Oh wait, HP is also Hewlett Packard or maybe Hewlett-Packard or Hewlett-Packard Company. And EDS is now also HP due to an acquisition. Oh, and by the way, EDS stands for Electronic Data Systems. Yikes!”

Informatica Data Quality: National Security vs. Privacy Rights - the Role for Technology

“I ran across an interesting article concerning the US initiative to broker data exchange with various EU nations. The intent is to gain greater access to information that would help in the global war on terror. . . . The technology challenge can often be so consuming that we devote scarce attention to the ethical issues involved. Data integration and identity resolution technology are continually advancing. By factoring in ethical and moral considerations into the development of the technology, we should be able to support both objectives. Privacy and security do not necessarily need to be requirements that trade off against each other.”

The Bunker Blog: Awareness Wins The Day

“How important is loss prevention awareness? Well, it could very well make the difference between a loss and a recovery. Just a few days ago, while doing some training in a store, I was interrupted by an employee who wanted to tell me that he had just deterred a theft.”

PogoWasRight.org: UK: Big Brother is Bluetoothing You

“A controversial new study that uses Bluetooth technology to track UK citizens, without their knowledge, has come under fire from privacy campaigners.”

Warrick Publishing Online: Fighting retail crime online

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know all too well the growing problem ORC presents to local law enforcement and communities. But with the rising popularity of online marketplaces, bringing these criminals to justice is becoming more and more difficult.”

Sacramento Business Journal: Report: 800 suspect auto insurance claims in Sacramento County

“Statewide, 14,623 out of 23,734 — 61 percent — of the insurance fraud referrals received by the state agency in the last fiscal year were suspected automobile insurance fraud. People who create pre-planned accidents are known as ’stagers.’ They look for high-value targets such as commercial vehicles, expensive luxury cars or vehicles owned by cities or counties. They are considered high value because of the virtual guarantee of insurance coverage.”

What’s in a (Company) Name?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

By Ram Anantha, Infoglide Director of Product Management

Matching company names in a database may seem like a simple task. HP is HP, right? Oh wait, HP is also Hewlett Packard or maybe Hewlett-Packard or Hewlett-Packard Company. And EDS is now also HP due to an acquisition. Oh, and by the way, EDS stands for Electronic Data Systems. Yikes!

Matching company names, it turns out, is actually pretty complicated, which is why some companies can get away with not paying their workers’ compensation premiums simply by going “out of business” and starting up again with a different name.

There are still some things, like applying context to data and reading emotional cues, that human beings do better than computers (phew!). But software has gotten pretty smart, and identity resolution technology is able to make a lot of the same connections that the human mind would. Some examples of the types of variation in data that identity resolution technology can resolve include:

  • Suffix variation - Wells Fargo & Company vs. Wells Fargo & CO
  • Common substitutions - Department of Defense vs. Dept of Defense
  • Company short forms - Federal Express vs. Fedex
  • Missing/inserted tokens - Allied Waste Industries Inc vs. Allied Waste Inc
  • Token transposition - Law Offices of Dale, Fischer & Cobb vs. Law Offices of Dale, Cobb & Fischer
  • Two character transposition - Weis Markets vs. Wies Markets
  • Spelling equivalents - Cedar Shopping Centers vs. Cedar Shopping Centres
  • Phonetic similarity - Filene’s Basement vs. Philene’s Basement
  • International equivalents - Cemex sociedad anónima bursatil de capital variable vs. Cemex s.a.b de c.v.

And when other attributes (e.g. street addresses, phone numbers, executive management, etc.) are taken into consideration, the quality of the matches can be further enhanced. Rapid and reliably accurate searching of company names, including discovery of duplicates and relationship links, is a basic need for many business and government applications. Applying sophisticated identity resolution technology can remove and prevent confusion that would otherwise hamper critical applications.

What’s in a (Company) Name?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

By Ram Anantha, Infoglide Director of Product Management

Matching company names in a database may seem like a simple task. HP is HP, right? Oh wait, HP is also Hewlett Packard or maybe Hewlett-Packard or Hewlett-Packard Company. And EDS is now also HP due to an acquisition. Oh, and by the way, EDS stands for Electronic Data Systems. Yikes!

Matching company names, it turns out, is actually pretty complicated, which is why some companies can get away with not paying their workers’ compensation premiums simply by going “out of business” and starting up again with a different name.

There are still some things, like applying context to data and reading emotional cues, that human beings do better than computers (phew!). But software has gotten pretty smart, and identity resolution technology is able to make a lot of the same connections that the human mind would. Some examples of the types of variation in data that identity resolution technology can resolve include:

  • Suffix variation - Wells Fargo & Company vs. Wells Fargo & CO
  • Common substitutions - Department of Defense vs. Dept of Defense
  • Company short forms - Federal Express vs. Fedex
  • Missing/inserted tokens - Allied Waste Industries Inc vs. Allied Waste Inc
  • Token transposition - Law Offices of Dale, Fischer & Cobb vs. Law Offices of Dale, Cobb & Fischer
  • Two character transposition - Weis Markets vs. Wies Markets
  • Spelling equivalents - Cedar Shopping Centers vs. Cedar Shopping Centres
  • Phonetic similarity - Filene’s Basement vs. Philene’s Basement
  • International equivalents - Cemex sociedad anónima bursatil de capital variable vs. Cemex s.a.b de c.v.

And when other attributes (e.g. street addresses, phone numbers, executive management, etc.) are taken into consideration, the quality of the matches can be further enhanced. Rapid and reliably accurate searching of company names, including discovery of duplicates and relationship links, is a basic need for many business and government applications. Applying sophisticated identity resolution technology can remove and prevent confusion that would otherwise hamper critical applications.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-7-21

Monday, July 21st, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

InformationWeek: Microsoft Bolsters Data Management With Zoomix Purchase

“The Zoomix technology will eventually add functionality to the master data management technology Microsoft acquired last year when it bought Stratature and its +EDM product, according to a blog post by Microsoft group program manager Kirk Haselden, who has been leading the company’s master data management efforts. Master data management software aims to maintain a single, accurate version of data and can do things like show accumulated data on one customer from an array of data sets.”

Reuters UK: U.S. terrorism watch list tops 1 million

“About 400,000 individuals are included on the list, about 95 percent of whom are not U.S. citizens or residents, Kolton said. The watch list also includes separate entries with aliases, fake passports and fake birth dates, bringing the total number of records to more than 1 million, he said. TSA spokesman Christopher White said the agency’s ‘no-fly’ watchlists to screen travellers were ’scrubbed’ last year to remove about half of the names, leaving them with somewhat fewer than 50,000. He said Kennedy and Lewis were never on the list, and that problems they reported were due to their misidentification with names properly on it.”

NetworkWorld: Microsoft buys Zoomix to add data quality to SQL Server

“‘One of the problems we face today is that there is so much data out there, trying to figure out what’s really important — to get information, and from that information to get knowledge about what’s happening — is difficult,’ said Richard Ptak, managing partner of IT analyst firm Ptak, Noel & Associates. Vendors that provide databases, business intelligence and data-management software increasingly are integrating automated data-quality capability into those products to improve the overall quality of an organization’s data, he said.”

MarketWatch: Leading Coalition Applauds Legislation to Protect Consumers From Organized Retail Crime

“‘This new legislation is a long overdue effort to bring U.S. criminal law into the 21st century,’ said Al Thompson, vice president for global supply chain at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. ‘Organized retail crime is a serious and growing national problem. Sophisticated rings of thieves, who steal billions of dollars a year, don’t care about jeopardizing the health and safety of consumers when they sell mishandled products like diabetic test strips or over-the-counter medicines.’”

Andy on Enterprise Software: The Bulldog gets a housemate

“Microsoft generally likes to acquire software companies when they are quite small, with a dozen or two employees. In this way they can assimilate the development staff into Redmond and into the Microsoft way of doing things. . . . They opted for Zoomix, a small Israeli company which I first encountered in 2006, though they were founded in 1999. Zoomix had some quite clever marketing, claiming ’self learning’ technology as a way of making data profiling in particular more productive. In this way it could be compared to Exeros, although the technology underpinnings are quite different.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-7-18

Friday, July 18th, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] Companies Just as Guilty of Workers’ Compensation Fraud as Employees

“When you hear ‘workers’ compensation fraud,’ it probably brings to mind the person who is supposed to be out with a bad back but somehow manages to do heavy yard work or play basketball while ‘injured.’ But as we’ve seen before, there’s more than one way to defraud an organization. Another kind of workers’ compensation fraud that happens more often than you might think is the type that involves employers rather than employees.”

Informatica: Microsoft Buys Zoomix

“While this is not a large transaction for Microsoft, the move does underscore the importance of Data Quality. However, this raises an interesting question. Who should you trust to deliver data quality? The people who brought you Vista? the folks who sold you SAP? At first glance, it seems quite convenient to be able to deal with data quality issues in conjunction with specific source systems. However, many IT experts would claim this approach is merely a stop-gap measure. Data must be managed apart from its host systems. Data Quality rules start to truly add value to the business when they span MS SQL Server, and SAP, and Oracle, and etc. etc. It’s still a topic of debate. But the discussion has moved beyond the question of ‘is data quality software useful?’ to ‘where is the most useful place to deliver data quality software?’”

CQ Homeland Security: States Can Fume About Real ID — or They Can Find Ways to Cope With It

“The deadline for implementing REAL ID has been extended to 2014, and so the fight between states and the Department of Homeland Security over a federally approved, state-issued identification card is cooling off, at least for the moment. That doesn’t mean states are happy about things, or that they all have backed off expressing their displeasure over what Washington is imposing on them. . . . But while the anger is understandable, it probably is time for state officials to shelve the hot rhetoric and start thinking about what to do in the next five years to get ready for REAL ID requirements, as vexing and annoying and expensive as the prospect might be. Some states already are making moves in that direction, even if they’re reluctant to acknowledge it.”

AuctionBytes Blog: eFencing Legislation Targets eBay

eBay and retailers are about to duke it out over legislation introduced into the US House of Representatives yesterday. House Resolution 6491, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008, was introduced on Tuesday and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. It would make organized retail crime a federal offense and would make marketplaces like eBay more accountable for stolen goods listed on their sites.”

Confessions of a database geek: Data Quality for Product Attributes: Microsoft Jumps In

“If you watch Data Quality news, or subscribe to my Information Quality aggregator, you’ll have already seen the announcement that Microsoft’s purchasing data quality vendor Zoomix. Vince McBurney and others have posted analyses of the purchase, citing Zoomix’s ability to better-position Microsoft for MDM. What caught my eye in the press release was the mention of product data quality. . . . A good deal of research has targeted how to standardize, classify, and cleanse customer/vendor names and addresses, but few have taken up the challenge for working with products.”

Evolution of Security: Myth Buster: TSA’s Watch List is More Than One Million People Strong

“FACTS ABOUT TERROR WATCH LISTS:

  • Terror watch lists keep legitimate terror threats off of airplanes every day, all over the world.
  • According to the Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, terror watch lists have, ‘helped combat terrorism’ and ‘enhanced U.S. counterterrorism effort.’
  • Our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities work tirelessly and in some cases under great physical danger to identify individuals that pose a terror threat. The simple truth is that it would be negligent to not use this information to our advantage.”

Companies Just as Guilty of Workers’ Compensation Fraud as Employees

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

By the Infoglide Team

When you hear “workers’ compensation fraud,” it probably brings to mind the person who is supposed to be out with a bad back but somehow manages to do heavy yard work or play basketball while “injured.” But as we’ve seen before, there’s more than one way to defraud an organization. Another kind of workers’ compensation fraud that happens more often than you might think is the type that involves employers rather than employees.

Employers are using various methods to either reduce the amount they pay for workers’ compensation premiums or avoid paying all together. For example, from the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Blog, a California construction company manipulated information about how many hours its employees were working to save on premium costs:

This is another example of how business owners often exploit the WC system to their advantage to line their own pockets. Cases such as this chip away at the misconception that the workers are the ones taking advantage of the WC system. When you disregard the pervasive, sensationalistic stereotypes and anecdotes about undeserving injured workers defrauding the comp. system, and look at the actual numbers, employer and insurance fraud almost always exceeds worker fraud.

Another post on The Pump Handle poses an explanation for why fraud by employers costs workers’ comp programs so much, particularly in New York.

While workers’ compensation in the U.S. was first introduced under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, there is no federal oversight or regulation of state workers’ compensation programs. In New York, the administration of workers’ compensation is fragmented with private insurance companies bearing some of the responsibility and the State Workers’ Compensation Board bearing some responsibility. Between the two, there is no overall strategic enforcement capability, much less systematic coordination with the Labor Department’s unemployment insurance system, which does operate under federal oversight.

Another technique employers use to avoid paying altogether is to not pay their premiums, and then, when the insurer threatens to cut off the insurance, the employer “goes out of business” to avoid payment. Then the employer re-opens for business with a different company name and different contact information so that it appears to be a different company. So Mike’s Home Remodeling, which is owned by Michael Robert Johnson, becomes Bob’s Building Services, which is owned by Bob Johnson where Michael and Bob are the same exact person. Or Mike’s Home Remodeling, which is owned by married couple, Mike and Sue, and uses their office address becomes Sue’s Home Remodeling and uses the couple’s home address.

Fortunately this is one type of employer fraud that can be addressed fairly easily with an identity resolution solution that can analyze the available data in different sources and find these types of connections between individuals and entities.

Identity Resolution Daily 2008-7-14

Monday, July 14th, 2008

ITBusinessEdge: The Lowdown on Master Data Management

Master data management technologies can be a bit confusing. . . . In short, if you’re confused, don’t be surprised. MDM is complicated. Fortunately, I’ve found a very helpful free resource that sorts it all out for us.”

b-eye.com - Business Intelligence Network - Blog: David Loshin: Microsoft Buys Zoomix

“As was rumored a few weeks back (see my previous blog entry), Microsoft continues its acquisitions in the data quality/MDM arena with its announced purchase of Israeli data quality company Zoomix.”

NextGov: Federal identity programs boost biometrics market

“‘There is a little glass dome over the Washington, D.C., Beltway community,’ says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, ‘where these contractors and security folks … are absolutely convinced of a growing and mutating and metastasizing terrorist threat–and Congress, meanwhile, has granted them tremendous amounts of money to use any way they can.’ . . . For the foreseeable future, at least, the odd bedfellows will work together. Says Harper, ‘You’ll know your privacy and liberties are relatively secure when I get back to fighting with the ACLU.’”

b-eye.com - Business Intelligence Network - Blog: James Taylor: Should Enterprise Decision Management only cover automation?

“The same reader who asked yesterday’s question had a second: Do you see the terms ‘Enterprise Decision Management‘ and ‘Smart Enough Systems’ concerned mostly with the automation of decisions — which means really only covering strictly operational and appropriate tactical decisions. The term ‘Enterprise Decision Management’ to me suggests a broader definition, one that I would expect to include the management of *all* decisions in an enterprise — operational, tactical, and strategic. I guess I see SES as a subset of EDM, but I felt like they were used as synonyms in a few places and I wasn’t sure I agreed with that usage.”

Beep: Thieves grab the oddest things

“About two-thirds of retailers identified or recovered stolen merchandise (including gift cards) being sold at swap meets, on the Internet and elsewhere, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Organized Retail Crime report. A survey of senior loss prevention professionals estimated that 40 percent of the ‘new in box’ merchandise sold through auction sites was obtained fraudulently. . . . ‘It is a problem for all retailers,’ says LensCrafters’ Ingram. ‘Prices go up for consumers when there is considerable theft.’”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2008-7-11

Friday, July 11th, 2008

[Post from Infoglide] Identity Resolution: When Name and Address Aren’t Enough

“Not long ago, Knowledge Integrity president, David Loshin, suggested that you have to spend considerable effort to standardize attributes of entities in order to exploit identity resolution effectively. He went on to explain multiple types of name standardizations to demonstrate just how complex the process can be.”

Mortgage Technology: The Problem of Dirty Data

“Dirty data is everywhere. There’s not a financial services company around that doesn’t have a problem with dirty data — data fields that are empty, incomplete or filled with non-sensible or otherwise just plain wrong information. Over 25% of critical data of Fortune 1000 companies will continue to be inaccurate, incomplete or duplicated over the next two years, according to Gartner Inc., a research and advisory firm. Gartner predicts that three-quarters of large enterprises will make little to no progress towards improving data quality until 2010.”

Data Governance and Data Quality Insider: The Soft Costs of Information Quality

“Choosing data quality technology simply on price could mean that you end up paying far more than you need to, thanks to the huge differences in how the products solve the problems. While your instinct may tell you to focus solely on the price of your data quality tool, your big costs come in less visible areas – like time to implement, re-usability, time spend preprocessing data so that it reads into the tool, performance and overall learning curve.”

Homeland Security Watch: Advisers to Obama, McCain Camps Opine on HLS Priorities

“Congressional Quarterly’s CQ Homeland Security ran a story revealing views likely held by the presidential candidates on homeland security priorities. Neither candidate has dedicated much airtime to the topic of homeland security, but both have formed teams of volunteer policy advisors focused on developing homeland security positions. This week’s story quotes Ruchi Bhowmik of Obama’s Senate staff campaign and Lee Carosi Dunn from McCain’s staff. Neither spoke as representing the presidential campaigns, but both are accurate indicators of the candidates’ views.”

PogoWasRight.org: Microsoft, Google back broad privacy legislation

“Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. told lawmakers Wednesday that Congress should pass basic privacy legislation to protect information about consumers, such as the data being gathered about people’s Web surfing habits in order to pinpoint Internet advertising.”


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