Most Identity Theft Cases Never Get Resolved
When you tie this article in with the recent compromise at CardSystems Solutions Inc., it starts to get really scary for the Average Joe to have a credit card. As a consumer, you have to make sure you shred your bills, don’t leave your wallet or credit card in the wrong place, pay attention to where you’re shopping online and make sure you don’t accidentally fall for a phishing email or catch a virus. And even when you do everything right, the companies who give us these wonderful cards in the first place aren’t doing enough to protect us.
Americans as a whole are much too reliant on credit cards. We use them to shop for our clothes, buy our gas, get money out of the ATM and shop online. We’re a consumer culture, and identity theft may just be part of price we pay for that. I’m not quite ready to resign myself to paying that price, but a lot of the credit card companies seem to be willing to accept it. And then pass the cost onto us, that is.
For years I didn’t have credit cards, then I bought a house, built my credit back up to a respectable level and started to get more and more cards. I’ve cut several of them up in the last six months, and the news from the last few days makes me seriously think about cutting up the last few I have. Right now, the convenience outweighs my natural inclination towards paranoia, but the ease of use is becoming less and less appealing. After all, the same credit card that allows me to buy toys so easily could also allow the bad guys to ruin my credit easily. And identity theft isn’t like the theft of a material object; I could replace my car in a couple of days, but replacing my good name and credit could take years, if not decades.
Now this is ‘hacking’ in the sense of making technology work for you! Last week Eric Bermender from Industrial Light and Magic gave a presentation on how ILM uses a single image on their file servers to boot over a thousand servers for use in their rendering cluster. The systems have no real file system on the hard drives, instead they boot via pxe, copy the files that have to be writable to a RAM disk and use the hard drives as swap space. Eric says there was a long, iterative process of ‘boot, pray, fix the problems, repeat’, but that once they got everything working, it’s been worth the effort.
I believe this may be the future of computing in a lot of areas where you need a lot of computing power. Apparently, under the old ILM system, each server had to be individually built, patching was a nightmare and troubleshooting even worse. Now, if they have a software problem, it’s very apparent since it’ll affect the whole cluster, and hardware problems are obvious since they only affect one system. If they need to patch the systems, they only need to update the base image and every system in the cluster automatically picks up on the patch. Pretty slick stuff.