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Data Farming Expand / Collapse
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 11:07 AM
SSC Journeyman

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Yes Steve, Life is not fair when it comes to data farming. I do try to limit my data shadow, but I prefer to use the term data wake since it is the rippling waves left behind by my passing, which does diminish the further away I get from it.

I kind've taken the fatalistic attitude that helped me cope with the anxieties of living through the cold war. Yes the M.A.D. doctrine could still end the world as we know it, and yes someone stealing my identity could do the same. However in the geologic record of time, all this nonsense won't amount to more than a quarter inch of history in the folded convoluted rock that we will all will eventually become.

My advice is prepare as best as you can for disaster, but enjoy what you do and live your life now, not in the future. If the shit ever does hit the fan, relax, look around, smell the roses and either start over or lay down and die.

Brandon Forest
Post #585035
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 11:20 AM


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Carla's comment is accurate. I was recently stopped for speeding. After checking my record through his on board computers, and talking to me, he did not give me a ticket. Then he helpfully casually mentioned that there was a criminal with my first and last name with an outstanding warrant for arrest who he could tell was not me personally. His point was, in case I was mistakenly taken as that person, that I could mention this to other policemen and maybe circumvent a false arrest.

I have a super common first, middle and last name. scary - nothing I can do.
Post #585041
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 3:07 PM



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With the whole, "same name as thousands of others" thing going, I've actually wondered recently if the celebrity thing of truly odd names for their kids might be more of a blessing than a curse. Sure, you'll have trouble in middle school with some of those names - kids can be quite cruel. But when it comes to being mistaken for someone else because of a name on a watch-list, or some such, it sure won't be as easy as for "Steve Jones".

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Post #585111
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 6:14 PM

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Several decades ago, I dropped the "R" in my name: "R. Barry Young". It just made things harder, forms couldn't handle it, clerks kept identifying my as "Barry R. Young" and government officials kept insisting that I give them my real first name. So I just dropped it, never to be used again. This was possible before 9-11 and pre-digital IDs by the simple expedient of never using it again.

Then came the internet, especially Google, and I noticed an annoying thing: despite having worked my entire adult life in computers, and despite having been on the internet almost as long as it has existed, I couldn't find me. "Barry Young" is neither common nor rare, but there are at least 5 Barry Young's on the internet easier to find than me (way easier). I didn't show up until around page 12, if then.

And if I couldn't find me, then I knew that no one else could either. And this had other effects: Like that question to a difficult problem that I posted in some obscure forum and got that great answer to about 5 years ago? I couldn't find it or any of my other posts & replies.

Then there's the username problem: Unlike many, I think that adults should use their real names on the internet (or something close to it), and I have never liked names like BYoung573. I would never be able to remember what it was later on (I have registered on hundreds, maybe thousands of sites) and unlike a forgotten password, a forgotten username is usually a much bigger problem.

And by the mid to late-90's I began notice something really annoying: I couldn't get BarryYoung as my username when I registered for new sites anymore, it was always taken. Grrrr...

So I resurrected the "R" and I always use it. In 10 years I have only ever been denied this username once (and that may have been an earlier registration by myself). Even better, whenever I want to see any of my posts, blog replies, rants against Ezines articles, etc. all I had to do was Google RBarryYoung: 100% hit efficiency!

Of course now everyone else can do it too, but that's never really bothered me too much. :D

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Post #585160
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2008 5:22 AM

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My name, like Shaun's, is towards the other end of the rarity spectrum from Steve Jones, so if I google for it, most of the entries on the first 5 pages are mine (a couple refer to my father). In fact, if I search for my surname most of the entries are about fairly close relatives (there are a handfull relating to people called "Don Gray"). My brother prepared a family tree a few years ago which showed that there were actually only 324 people he could find in the world with the surname Dongray and they were all closely related. Hence I'm fairly certain that my name in unique.

I don't know how this affects the chance of identity theft, since my data shadow can clearly be linked to me. As an example, I recently joined Facebook; within 2 days, someone I hadn't been in touch with for a couple of years contacted me and after a couple of weeks, someone I was at school with over 30 years ago linked me as a 'friend'. This indicates the double-edged nature of having a rare name; when people see it, they assume it's me, which is good if it is, but could be disastrous if my identity ever gets stolen.

What action do I take to limit my 'shadow'? Very little, except to maintain links to many of my past email addresses and try to minimise change to either my email address or phone number (I've kept the same mobile/cell number for 11 year and use an email address linked to a domain registered to me over 5 years ago). I do have an alternate "nickname" I use on many sites, but even there I tend to maintain the same name so that, if someone wanted to, they could easily link it to me.

Obviously, I only sign up for accounts I actually want (whether bank, credit card, book club membership or forum discussion) since these tend to persist for years, and also only fill in the minimum information they require; for example, on this site, I have no contact information (apart from the registration email), no personal info, no signature, no avatar and no photo, since none of this is needed for my discussions of SQL. Of course, a little searching would probably get most of my personal info off the net, but there's no point broadcasting it!

Does any of this do any good?

All I can say is I haven't had my identity stolen ... yet! :) My feeling (hope?) is that if someone wanted to steal an identity they'd choose a name that was more common to avoid the possibility of being found out too quickly. When your name's Steve Jones, people will say "I knew a Steve Jones when I was at school"; when your name's Derek Dongray they say "I was at XYZ school at the same time as you in 19xx"!

Post #585361
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2008 8:28 AM



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There are services to try and clean up data about you, but the best you can do is limit things. You can monitor your name, though, and it might be easier for you to detect things.

It's hard for me to tell if my data is compromised.

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Post #585515
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:10 AM
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No one is interested in reading old stuff!
Post #1477344
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:41 AM


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paolo.pedron (7/25/2013)
No one is interested in reading old stuff!

Do you wonder how many who read the blog posted back in 2008 thought about or actually started farming IDs? In today's thinking it is still not far fetched and possible. Companies are trying to removed Ghosts, however they still exist and people morph between identities both live and dead everyday.

And it is interesting tome that the more we try to gather information about people so that we can tell if they are real people or not the more information we supply to individuals who want to change their identity. Really all they have to do to create a new person is to have one institution believe one lie one time and then they have a hook to hang dozens of things on to further create that new persona. If you do not believe you have new ghosts every day then please review the list of voters, people receiving social security, or food stamps. And think how often we find about the surviving spouse who is still claiming the dead spouse's checks or benefits long after they are dead without ever telling the source of those items that the person had died.

People farming IDs? You bet!

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Post #1477583
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013 2:31 AM


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Silly thing is that whenever I go to an interview or talk to an agency I stress that I don't have an on line profile. Mainly because I have companies asking me strange things at interview or asking did I work at company xyz?

And as for likeness even my sister and friends has been thrown by other people looking like me. Happened in various towns and cities I have lived in.

Gets to be a bit of a worry that others will quite easily see what they want despite the evidence.

"Imitation is the best form of flattery!"
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