Identity thieves are going to face slimmer pickings, with the launch of the new Shop Shield online identity theft protection service, going into beta testing in the next few weeks.
According to its proponents, Shop Shield is a new and better way to protect personal identity information. It replaces actual data with useless, untraceable information, when making a purchase online or registering at a web site. According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve Bachenheimer, Shop Shield creates substitute billing information for each individual transaction, as well as unique login identities complete with a temporary email address that are useless to anyone who gains unauthorized access to them.
"Personal information can never be stolen because it wasn't divulged in the first place," Bachenheimer said. "The real information never leaves the Shop Shield databases."
Identity theft has reached epidemic levels in recent years, and it is expected to get much worse. According to accepted industry figures, an American becomes a victim every two seconds. More than 120 million people across the country have had their personal information compromised in 2007, a six fold increase over 2005. Financial losses from phishing have also increased dramatically from $137 million in 2004 to $2.8 billion in 2006.
Online threats include outright identity theft, credit card fraud, email scams, phishing, spoofing and spam. While hackers can occasionally gain access to merchant databases, insiders working for the merchants, who steal or lose entire databases and may even sell them to third parties, pose a more insidious threat. It is estimated that more than 85% of all identity theft is attributable to such "inside jobs."
"It doesn't matter how effectively one protects against hackers, or how sophisticated the encryption techniques are, when sending information over the Internet," Bachenheimer said. "If it's an inside job, none of that helps a bit."
In addition to utilizing the latest security and encryption technology, Kemesa provides the ultimate in database protection by fragmenting each Shop Shield user's information into undecipherable bits, encrypting the bits and then dividing the encrypted bits among several databases making it completely unusable in the unlikely event the system was ever hacked.
Shop Shield has already passed a rigorous security evaluation including the Payment Card Industry's PCI standard, and is ready for public use. The Shop Shield beta test is intended to evaluate such issues as user-friendliness, and to identify bugs or compatibility issues.
"We want to make sure we've created the best possible product to protect consumers from identity theft and fraud, while shopping online or registering at a web site," Bachenheimer said.
The beta test is open to the public, and Bachenheimer intends to get all the feedback possible. The testing period is scheduled to end in a few months. Participants are encouraged to participate in the free test, and can register at http://www.shopshield.net/.