Ahead of former Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s first day of congressional testimony, Rob Joyce, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator, spoke about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of Social Security Numbers. While discussing Russia’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election and possible measures to counter future intrusions at a summit hosted by the Washington Post, Joyce delved into the topic specifically. “I believe the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness,” he said. “It’s a flawed system.”
“If you think about it, every time you use the Social Security number, you put it at risk,” he explained. “By interacting with it, you’ve given a key piece of information out publicly — maybe to a private company, maybe to an individual. That is the identifier that connects to you to all sorts of credit and digital information online. There are technologies we can look at advancing, and our call is, let’s look at what would be a better system.”
Joyce, who admitted his own SSN had been “compromised” at least four times in the past, argued the system as-is should at least no longer be used as a means of identification in the United States. For along with the recent Equifax breach, Russian hackers allegedly accessed the SSNs and other private information of American voters from over 30 states during the 2016 election. Aside from these significant compromises, Joyce continued, the system suffers from severe deficiencies in terms of identity theft recovery.