Cumberland Times-News

December 13, 2012

State’s hunting license policy could lead to identity theft

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

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Recently, I tried to buy a hunting license and learned that the state of Maryland knowingly puts hunters at risk. 
When I walked into a local store to purchase my annual Maryland hunting license, I handed over the normal driver’s license and hunter safety card. 
What happened next both astonished and frightened me. The salesperson asked for my Social Security Account Number (SSAN.) I observed no less than six people listening to hear my answer. 
This is a change from last year. I declined. I didn’t know this person and was also shocked by the number of people attempting to listen. I had already given my full name, address, driver’s license number, and now was being asked for my SSAN for entry into the DNR’s COMPASS database. 
I have already been the victim of credit card fraud so I’m a bit sensitive as to whom has information about me. I asked why he needed this information. He told me that the state of Maryland requires it. 
Needless to say, I didn’t give some random person behind a counter all of my information. I simply left with my money and uncompromised identity.
But I like to hunt, so I thought I would investigate. I thought there must be some sort of mistake or work around. 
I just couldn’t believe the state implemented a system that required its citizens to hand over this vital information to a stranger. Has this person had a background investigation? Who knows? 
The next day, I wrote the DNR, my state delegate, and my representatives. 
They simply pointed out that it was Maryland state law intended to ensure that the state did not provide services to people who owed money. They admitted that it did have unintended consequences, but offered no action or assistance in helping to fix the problem.
So for the hunters who have already bought a license and given out your SSANs, take heed. I am a certified information technology professional with years of experience seeing instances of data exfiltrate out of databases at the hands of hackers. 
It’s inevitable. It comes with the territory. Try as you might to protect it, no public facing website (one connected to the Internet) using only a username/password combination can be considered truly safe. 
There is no authentication that when you log in that you can prove that it’s really you. Hackers know what the state of Maryland lawmakers apparently do not. 
So I fear that the State of Maryland may cause many hunters to have their identities stolen and they may never know how. 
Sadly, if you purchased a 2012 fishing or hunting license, your identity is now at risk. 
Dan Slick
Mechanicsville