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UT Creates New Tool To Protect Against Identity Theft

Updated: Tuesday, June 3 2014, 11:00 PM CDT
Identity theft is a growing problem, and the University of Texas Center for Identity is dedicated to researching and fighting back against these types of cyber-crimes.

Director Suzanne Barber has helped create the first-of-its-kind Identity Theft Eco-System Map, which is a tool that shows people exactly what happens to your stolen identity.

Barber said it maps risk and value levels.

"If I as an individual know where my risk is, and I know what's more valuable, I know how to and am better armed to protect it," Barber said. "We are creating a model of threat behavior. We are creating a historical model of what has happened in prior breaches."

Hundreds of colorful spheres represent pieces someone's identity. There are the big, known pieces of personal information like driver's license and a social security number. But, there are also parts of personal information people might not realize thieves target such as, allergies, tattoos, and even astrological signs. The spheres and web are all connected, complex, and colorful bread crumbs that can thieves straight to steal identities

"Attributes that show up in red are at an elevated risk," Barber said. "I would say 'I need to look at those pieces of information and put better protection around them."

Barber said all thieves need is just one piece of information to be able to crack into more.

"We put so much online, and share so much of the same info over and over the likely hood that the criminal can use one piece of information can find out others," Barber said.

That is why the mapping tool shows what is vulnerable, and helps people find solutions after a breach to protect themselves in the future.

"We can tell you don't worry about this attribute, but you should really worry about these in red," Barber said.

The Center for Identity will officially launch is September, and it plans to eventually turn the mapping tool in to an App.
By Cassie Gallo
UT Creates New Tool To Protect Against Identity Theft

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