The BBC reports on a new service that is designed to help users reduce their risk of identity theft through a monitoring facility. The service is kind of like the constant surveillance of the Orwellian Big Brother but where the individual is in control of the surveillance upon themselves.
The Garlik Datapatrol service has been set up by the founders of the internet bank Egg with the intention of putting users back in control of the information that is held on them in public databases that are easily accessible through the internet.
The service brings together from the internet, public databases, and Credit Reports all the personal information it can find on a user and then displays it in a simple online format. Then on a monthly basis users will receive an update summary of additions or changes to their online profile as well as highlighting any risks or suspicious activity.
By facilitating individuals access to the information that is held on them the service puts its users on an equal footing with the criminals that might seek to steal their identities and as irregularities are often the first indication of a problem the monitoring system gives users an early warning and the possibility of nipping it in the bud before any negative consequences have occurred.
My only concerns are the security of Garlik’s database and the trustworthiness of the company. They seem to have a fairly robust system to establish user’s identity and to then authenticate users accessing the personal information gathered in the server database. But it presupposes that an individual’s identifying information hasn’t already been compromised or stolen.
I can see this service being a boon for identity theft rings who have enough data to register falsely for the service in order to further the scope of their thefts by letting Garlik do the legwork as it were in accruing further information.
Garlik’s secure servers would also be a prime target for criminals and so I would hope that they have taken the security of their servers as seriously as any bank would with theirs. Is the physical access to the servers as well secured as the online access is?
My second concern would be that as a new company they haven’t had the time to build a reputation or a record of establishment of trust. Registered users will be empowering the company and placing a lot of trust in the security of the service and the authenticity and accuracy of the personal information data provided to users. Having said that there is nothing to suggest that Garlik is in any way a disreputable company it is merely my natural paranoia.
I would have more faith in Garlik presently than I would in the UK government in securing any personal information I would give them.
Garlik are currently offering free trials to people signing up for the Datapatrol service at their website. http://www.garlik.com.
People with concerns about identity theft and security online should also take a look at the following website Get Safe Online which has been set up by banks and prominent internet companies.