What can we learn from a recent security breach in which social security numbers were listed online? Less is Best when it comes to your identity.

This is why security awareness is so important. You must know when you are required to list personally identifiable information and when you are not required. Recently, a city clerk’s office notified 50 individuals of a security breach in which their Social Security numbers and dates of birth were available on the Internet.

According to the press release, on December 19, 2012, a city employee discovered a Social Security number in a liquor license application packet posted online through the city’s Legislative Information Center.  The press release also stated that the only time the Clerk’s Office would require a Social Security number would be when hiring an employee.

This same situation can apply to any form you are filling out…at the doctor’s office, creating an online profile, banking documentation, and many others. It is important to understand that many times a social security number is not required (even if there is a spot for it on a form). There are some instances in which you are required to list your private information, but many times only certain items are required, and those are the only fields you should list. Don’t go above and beyond when it comes to handing out private information. Stick with what you absolutely have to. Remember, less is best when it comes to your information.

Security Tips to stay protected

  • Do not share information that is NOT required. (This seems basic and repetitive, but it happens more than you would think).
  • If you feel too much information is being requested for what you are applying for, ask the HR department (or other department head requesting the information) why that information is required. You may not want to go through with the application if they are requiring unnecessary information. Before handing out banking information and social security numbers, this step is a MUST.
  • When you do list personal information be sure you are handing it over to a very reliable and secure source. Make sure you trust this source, and don’t be afraid to ask where it will be stored and who will have access to it.
  • Always pay attention to the security policy. Don’t sign anything without reading it. It may take you 10 minutes to read the fine print, but it is well worth it. If you aren’t comfortable with the policy, speak up. Don’t just sign something you feel is insecure.

So, speak up, don’t be shy if you are concerned. Give the minimum information possible. As stated in this example, the social security numbers were not even required.