- Creating an SSN policy
- Educating employees
- Following the data
- Eliminating digital and paper SSN records
- Protecting digital SSN records
- Maintaining security measures over time
Skill Level Beginner
- [Mike] Social Security numbers are among the most sensitive pieces of information about an individual who lives and works in the United States. As individuals we're now trained to guard that number jealously and only share it with organizations that we trust. But why are Social Security numbers so sensitive? Those of us who have been around a few years remember that there wasn't always this level of concern around those nine digits. In fact, we used to use Social Security numbers quite widely. They served as a convenient, unique identifier. Everyone in the country had one and they followed a standard format. The use of SSNs was common and we didn't think twice about giving them to other people. The military used Social Security numbers as identification numbers and printed them on ID cards and dog tags. Doctors and hospitals used them as medical record numbers, which was especially convenient because many health insurance companies also used them as policy numbers. Professors often posted grade lists on their doors and to protect student privacy, used Social Security numbers instead of names to identify grades. This all changed in the last decade due to one significant driving force, the digitization of consumer finance and the adoption of Social Security numbers as the keys to an individual's identity. Now when we apply for a credit card, mortgage, or bank account online, financial institutions request our Social Security number and use it to pull our credit report. Possession of a Social Security number is widely viewed as proof of identity, and someone who obtains our Social Security number can use it to steal our identity and impersonate us, both online and in the physical world. The sensitivity of Social Security numbers causes significant challenges for organizations. Those who once used SSNs as unique identifiers may now have large stores of this data that puts the organization at risk. Some organizations, especially those involved in financial transactions and taxes, must continue to use SSNs to some extent. They must implement strong security controls to secure this sensitive information. Hi, I'm Mike Chapple. I'm a cyber security expert, and I've been helping organizations secure sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, for more than two decades. In this course, we'll explore how you can help your organization protect the Social Security numbers entrusted to its care.