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Friday, July 25, 2014

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One Step Ahead: Almanac Security Tips - 2014

In each issue, Penn's Journal of Record, The Almanac publishes helpful tips and hints for dealing with information security and privacy matters. This page is a collection of all those published thus far.
New! You can now receive new One-Step-Ahead Security and Privacy Tips automatically!
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Table of Contents (view all)

Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability
Security and Privacy Tips for World Travelers
Filing Taxes Online This Year? Take Steps to Protect Your Information!
If your computer runs Windows XP, you must update it now!
Why Should You Report Security Incidents? And How Do You Report One?
Photo and Video Privacy Issues
The Password is Dead, Long Live the Password!
Data Privacy Month: NSA Surveillance Panel at the National Constitution Center
Protecting Your Finances During This Year’s Holiday Shopping Season
Beware of Phishing E-mails in the Wake of Typhoon Haiyan
No E-mail from Penn Will Ask For Your Username/Password or SSN
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act: Does It Apply to Your Website?
October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month; Free Secure Disposal of Paper and Electronics
What Basic Rules Protect Student Information at Penn? (September 2013)
Protecting Privacy and Security on Penn + Box

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Tagged with identity theft , SSNs

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - Almanac Vol. 55, No. 25

What's the Half-life of an SSN?

We are sometimes surprised at what's on our computer.

With the advent of data breach notification laws, when an employee computer goes missing, data privacy is the first concern. Employers want to know their risks, and common practice is to scan any available backups for confidential information. Often, news coverage of a data breach notes that the employee was unaware of sensitive records on the stolen computer.

In the days before identity theft mushroomed, it wasn’t uncommon to find social security numbers on performance appraisals, CVs, job applications, transcript requests, expense reports, and grant proposals. Since then, privacy policy and general awareness have increased to the point that most people would likely question sending SSNs in e-mail or including them on electronic forms.

But if we've upgraded our computer a couple of times and it's been our practice to cannibalize data from the old computer, it can be easy to forget that we’ve carried forward into the present a growing privacy risk. The same is true of our confidential personal information any time we use computers to prepare our taxes, make credit card purchases or manage our finances.

Help is available. Under Penn's Social Security Number policy, faculty and staff are remedying past practices. Through Penn's Office of Software Licensing, "Identity Finder" software is available for purchase to track down sensitive data before it becomes a problem. See


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