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Hackers Aren't Only Threat to Privacy

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Sophisticated hackers aren't the only ones gaining access to sensitive data on the Internet. A large amount of personal information is being left exposed or poorly protected by companies and governments.

The number of identity-theft victims in the U.S. jumped 12% to 11.1 million in 2009, according to research company Javelin Strategy & Research. Fraud cases reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is partly run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, climbed 23% to 336,655 last year.

Information that people inadvertently make public on sites like Facebook plays a role. So too do the sort of technical exploits demonstrated by the group that recently exposed a flaw in AT&T Inc.'s website.

But in many cases, finding social-security and credit-card numbers or medical records on the Internet doesn't require computer expertise. Instead, such information is accessible to anyone who knows where to look.

From The Wall Street Journal
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