South Florida Leads U.S. in Identity Theft Complaints

Jon Garon, the dean and a professor of law at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law, wrote a story for the Miami Herald that advocates for a strategic response to South Florida’s high cybercrime rate. On a per capita basis, Miami leads the nation when it comes to identity theft complaints. The numbers are staggering: There are 340 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents. South Florida has 46 times the number of falsified tax returns as the national average, according to the column.

“The South Florida ties of the president-elect may serve to increase Florida’s high incidence of cybercrime,” he writes in the piece. “Federal investigators believe a Florida election-system contractor was hacked by Russians, potentially exposing the personal data of Florida voters. Similar attacks occurred in Illinois and Arizona.

“It is unclear whether the hacks of state election systems were designed to shut down systems, to alter electronic records of the ballots, to steal voter information, or to conduct other forms of theft and sabotage. In all likelihood, the goal was a combination.”

Garon also brings up two other attacks:

• The attack against the DNC that targeted South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who then resigned as DNC chairperson.

• The March cyber attack aimed at Florida’s American Institutes for Research, which triggered over 29,000 computers and devices to bombard the testing service in a DDoS attack that tried to shut down the administration of state standardized tests.

“These attacks highlight the close relationship between attacks on private companies and governmental agencies,” he writes. “Theft of private information from vulnerable corporate systems provide thieves the credentials to then access additional secure data systems. Once a hacker gains access to the private data, the hacker can pose as the government employee or corporate executive to gain greater access to the system.”

Garon advocates that Florida “initiate a public-private partnership,” and bring together law enforcement agencies, banking organizations, governmental departments and cybersecurity experts to figure out how to undermine the revenue model fueling much of the criminal activity.

“By creating a comprehensive partnership, Florida can turn its lead as the victim of cybercrime into being a leader in cybercrime response,” he writes.


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