ANALYSIS / Israeli identity theft highlights crisis of information in digital age
Digital information is gradually becoming information that can be copied perfectly with almost unbearable ease.
The state does not know how to protect information. And not just Israel is negligent; most countries are. Think of WikiLeaks, which has published millions of classified documents in recent years, from large corporations, the military and the State Department.
Digital information is gradually becoming information that can be copied perfectly with almost unbearable ease. Not for nothing were the actions of Anat Kam, the Israel Defense Forces soldier such a shock: she inserted a disc, transferred hundreds of classified military documents from one file to another and copied them - and that was that.
But the risk can be reduced. Israel in particular is blessed with a number of high-tech companies that are developing the tools to prevent information leaks. These tools can warn in seconds of unauthorized opening of a file, and stop it from being illegally copied or sent to an unfamiliar e-mail address.
But the state, by its nature, is a large and clumsy body that has difficulty in efficient use of advanced technology and enforcing policy on tens of thousands of employees.
This raises even more serious questions about a biometric database established and operated by the state. While the database of the Population Registry reveals personal details such as full name, birth date and address, the biometric database will include essential, unique keys to our identity, such as fingerprints - to be managed by none other than the state.
As long as the database is well protected, it has quite a few advantages in terms of quick, precise identification. But the moment it is hacked - and it will be - it will be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle and all of our identities will be forfeited.
The author is the head of the Digital Studies track at the College of Management's School of Communications.