PORTLAND, Maine — You applied for a credit card, signed up for a rewards program at the grocery store, or filled out paperwork at the doctor's office. You're told your personal information is protected.
A couple of scientists have found a way to piece together the information, we thought was anonymized, to identify who we are and they posted how they did it online. They claim they are able to identify the data of more than 99% of Americans, according to a New York Times report.
To do so, they use 15 attributes like a person's gender, marital status, and zip code.
"They're taking anonymous data sets from many different sources," said Henry Felch, associate professor of cybersecurity and computer information systems at the University of Maine Augusta. "What you think is anonymous normally is not in today's computerized environment."
Felch says this finding could actually help us identify better ways to protect our information.
"I find it interesting and really glad that they decided to publish the method because by publishing the method now we can see how that algorithm finds the pieces so now maybe as researchers we can look to see how we can make it more secure going forward," he said.
Felch says the best way to protect yourself is to stay vigilant.
There are several things you should be checking often like your credit report and your social security earnings.
If you have children you should also monitor their social security number to make sure no one is using it. You can do that by contacting the social security administration.
It's also not a bad idea to check your child's credit report.
"The only other solution is to not be involved in today's society."