What "the web" knows about him, online reporter finds out
Robert L. Mitchell from Computerworld did a fascinating research tour on what he could find about himself in all these databases. He started with ones that are available publicly or for a small fee. He then spent some money on data brokers and paid sources. Here is what he got:
Source: Government recordsMitchell has a very good point when he concludes that authentication with several factors does not really help if it is only based on "what you know", and he even did some social engineering based on his own data he found, e.g. with his bank. The other interesting thing he discovered, not to my surprise: Much of the data was wrong, outdated, or wrongly combined with other persons with the same name.
Information discovered: Full legal name, address, Social Security number, spouse's name and Social Security number, price paid for home, mortgage documents, signature
Source: Free people searches
Information discovered: Employer name, job title, age, month and date of birth, phone numbers, wife's name and age, historical addresses and phone numbers, personal e-mail address, identifying photographs, employment history
Source: Search engines
Information discovered: Age, phone numbers, Computerworld affiliation, Computerworld stories, blog posts, identifying photos, social network and nonprofit affiliations, editorial award
Source: Image search
Information discovered: Computerworld publicity photos, Flickr photos
Source: Social network search engines
Information discovered: Computerworld stories, blog posts, social network friends and co-workers
Source: Paid searches
Information discovered: Address history to 1985; real estate purchase dates, assessed values and mortgagors; 2004 property tax bill; nonprofit affiliations; Flickr account details; published stories; parents' names, address, phone number and first five digits of Social Security numbers; current and past neighbors' names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and first six digits of Social Security numbers
But with all the information on how local governments fail to protect court records or housing documents they put online, how Acxiom and other data brokers have much more than they would tell you, or how much "the internet" knows about you, it's a bit sad that Mitchell only gives his readers "12 tips for managing your information footprint".
This is a political problem, and it has to be dealt with politically, not individually.