We’re all afraid of "identity theft," and being spied on by our computers and smartphones–and even our toys–is becoming commonplace. If you want to learn how to protect your property, talk to a convicted burglar. If you want to conserve what’s left of your privacy, consult a convicted hacker. Convicted cybercriminal Kevin Mitnick can tell us how to avoid falling prey to hackers like him.

Mitnick spent 20 years breaking into large institutions and stealing their data for his own use. He now runs a consulting firm telling companies how to protect themselves from people like him. Sometimes identity theft is as simple as–believe it or not–getting data from an anonymous phone call. Mitnick had nearly a 100% success rate by conning people in the phone into giving him the data he needed to access their computers. With that data, he could quickly find out peoples’ social security numbers and mother’s maiden names, using only legal means on the Internet.

In the February 11th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Hickins writes that Mitnick says that "’the system of identity in America is broken’ because we rely on birth certificates rather than, for instance, individual security tokens. Mr. Mitnick just returned from Mexico, which he said is sending security tokens to all of its citizens."

Here’s what WE think is a crime: The number of people who enjoy our weekly radio shows and read our news every day, but don’t support us–but still assume we’ll be there the next time they fire up their computers. It just doesn’t work that way, so we hope that’s not YOU. If it is, remember: It’s never too late to subscribe today! (But it WILL be too late to get $3 off on our beautiful crop circle calendar if you don’t use coupon 2012 to order it by September 23!)

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