Online Identity Theft Prompts Security Guidelines From White House

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And cyber security has serious economic implications. The average cost of a stolen identity is $631 per person, according to an industry survey cited by the Commerce Department.

Economic losses will often lead to questions of legal liability. Plans laid out for the new security standards would also help to clarify who bears responsibilities for what in the event of a cyber theft.

Although the plan is still in its early planning stages, administration officials have acknowledged privately that the road ahead is difficult. Any new cyber security plan has unforeseen challenges.

Congress has held hearings on cyber security in recent months, leading up to a possible Senate bill. And while participants are undecided on how to tackle the cyber threat, the one thing on which they seem to agree is that cyber security is a pressing issue and a real challenge.

A recent Senate judiciary hearing on cyber crime featured testimony from security experts with warnings about password security. In his testimony, Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary for policy for the Department of Homeland Security, said password security is not the end all and be all, pointing to the recent security breach at the cyber security firm RSA, a company that makes authentication hardware, as a reason why password authentication is not always bulletproof.

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