Social Security numbers ineffective at authenticating ID

In response to "Poor data hygiene is common," it is long past the time when Social Security numbers can be protected as private. Social Security numbers are not an effective authenticator for proving an identity. The numbers have been so widely used for such a long time that any realistic expectation of being private is gone. (Besides, it is my understanding the numbers were instituted as an identifier, not as an authenticator.)

So, the use of Social Security numbers as an identifier such as the index into a database is not a problem that needs to be solved. The problem today is the use of Social Security numbers as any part of an authentication of a claimed identity. Knowing an individual's Social Security number is simply not an acceptable part of the authentication process. Desiring otherwise is, I suggest, a fantasy because this is not unlike trying to close the proverbial barn door after the animals have all escaped.

Gary Stoneburner

Featured

  • Federal 100 Awards
    Federal 100 logo

    Fed 100 nominations are now open

    Help us identify this year's outstanding individuals in federal IT.

  • Defense
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) reveal concept renderings for the Next NGA West (N2W) campus from the design-build team McCarthy HITT winning proposal. The entirety of the campus is anticipated to be operational in 2025.

    How NGA is tackling interoperability challenges

    Mark Munsell, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s CTO, talks about talent shortages and how the agency is working to get more unclassified data.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.