On Jul 8, 2009, at 8:46 PM, d...@geer.org wrote:
I don't honestly think that this is new, but even
if it is, a 9-digit random number has a 44% chance
of being a valid SSN (442 million issued to date).
Different attack. What they are saying is that given date and place of birth - not normally considered particularly sensitive - they have a good chance of predicting *a particular person's* SSN.

For untargetted attacks, broad statistics about the number of SSN's out there are fine. But much attention these days is on targetted attacks against "high value" individuals. It's in fact probably *easier* to find basic biographical information about date and place of birth of such individuals - you can often get much of it for, say, CEO's of public companies from their own brief bio's of their senior officers; scan newspapers for charity birthday events and you can get quite a bit more - than for a random member of the population.

Now, whether this really buys you all that much over other ways of getting hold of SSN's is questionable - and in fact the researchers are quoted as saying it's more of a demonstration of principle than anything practical.

BTW, 442 million SSN's have been issued, but how many are for people who have since died? For many attacks, you need one for a living victim, which lowers the probability.
                                                        -- Jerry

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