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Big cities carry biggest ID theft risk

In other news, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says personal data on 1.8 million veterans and doctors may have been on a hard drive lost last month.

Residents of New York, California, Nevada or Arizona stand the greatest chance of falling victim to identity thieves, according to an analysis conducted by San Diego-based ID Analytics Inc.

The analysis, based on data gathered from the vendor's ID Network fraud prevention system, shows that the highest metropolitan area rates of identity fraud are in New York, while the states with the lowest rates of identity fraud are Wyoming, Vermont and Montana.

The vendor's ID Network system is designed to monitor names, addresses, Social Security numbers and phone numbers contributed in real time by organizations spanning multiple industries for the purpose of preventing identity fraud.

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Fraud rates were calculated based on the total number of reported identity frauds divided by the number of applications; as a result, the population density was scaled out, enabling comparisons among areas with differing populations. Applications in this analysis were submitted to credit grantors from January 2005 through June 2006. The addresses on the applications may belong to the victims of the identity fraud if the perpetrator were to use the complete and accurate identity information of the victim.

The 10 states with the highest rates of identity fraud are New York, California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Hawaii, Oregon, Michigan, Washington and Texas.

The 10 states with the lowest rates of identity fraud are Wyoming, Vermont, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Maine, Iowa, West Virginia and South Dakota.

Lost VA computer may had data on 1.8 million people
The personal information of 1.8 million doctors and veterans may have been on a hard drive the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lost last month. The VA initially estimated 50,000 identities were affected Feb. 2, the day it announced that the drive was missing. The VA said the portable hard drive was reported missing by an employee at the Birmingham, Ala., VA Medical Center Jan. 22.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said the department's inspector general determined that the hard drive probably housed information on 535,000 veterans and 1.3 million doctors not associated with the VA. The VA is in the process of notifying those affected.

The office of U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., said some of the information included names and matching Social Security numbers. In a message on his Web site, Davis said data on the physicians included their billing information and codes for Medicare services, which "could potentially be utilized for Medicare billing fraud."

Last May, the VA was forced to acknowledge that a laptop and hard drive containing 26.5 million personal records of current and former servicemen had been stolen from the home of an employee. The machinery was ultimately recovered.

The VA said it will offer a year of free credit monitoring to those affected.

Hacker may have smashed through major DRM program
It appears that a hacker has found a way to punch through the digital rights management (DRM) for Blu-ray and HD DVD movies, making it possible to copy them onto hard drives.

That revelation was made in the Doom9 DVD backup forum blog. According to the blog entry, a researcher who goes by the name "Arnezami" managed to pinpoint the processing key used to unlock the DRM on all high-definition films.

"That's pretty significant," Jeff Moss, organizer of the DefCon and Black Hat confabs, told Computerworld. "Now you can purchase the [DVD] content, store it, organize it, and arrange it anyway you want" on a hard drive, he told the publication.

Arnezami's claim comes on the heels of an earlier claim by a researcher named muslix64, who claimed to have broken the AACS system developed by such companies as Microsoft, Intel Corp., Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. to safeguard high-definition formats like Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD.

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