New center to combat identity theft

Federal agencies, private companies and academic institutions have joined to establish a research center to combat identity fraud and theft.

The Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP) will focus on issues such as identity management, information sharing and data protection. This development is in light of a slew of cases involving government and industry identity theft, the latest being a breach at the Agriculture Department that exposed the personal information of 26,000 current and retired USDA employees and contractors in the Washington, D.C., area.

CIMIP “brings together top minds from academia, business and law enforcement to help protect personal data through a coordinated research and education effort,” said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee. “I am confidence this new national center will give us better, more powerful tools to combat the pernicious threat of ID theft.” The center’s establishment was announced at a conference held this morning at the National Press Club.

CIMIP will be located at Utica College in Utica, N.Y. The center’s initial funding will be $500,000, half of which will come from federal grants and the other half from corporate donations. Gary Gordon, a professor of economic crime management at the college, will head the center. The first research grant is expected to come from a Justice Department division Aug. 1.

Jim Peck, chief executive officer of LexisNexis’ Risk Management Division, said centralizing the data will help industry and academia provide technologies and practical solutions for law enforcement agents. LexisNexis and IBM are the corporate founders of the center.

A collaborative effort would produce better tools for catching cybercriminals, law enforcement officials said at the press briefing. “We need a unified approach to be successful,” said Brian Nagel, deputy director of the Secret Service.

“We’d love an opportunity to look at trends,” said Ray Morrow, acting assistant deputy director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division. He said he believes law enforcement officials have not been able to see trends in cybercrime. “It gives us a chance to be proactive,” he added.

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