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Photo: Zak Hussein/Corbis via Getty Images

The Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee released a new report on modernizing the Social Security number system Wednesday. And the numbers are a thing that need modernizing — we use them as identification in everything from mortgages to job applications, despite the fact that they're easy to steal.

The problem: “If we look at how well we're doing right now with Social Security, an estimated 60–80% are already compromised,” said Candace Worley, McAfee vice president and chief technical strategist. That’s because the online world has opened up previously unavailable potential for hackers to steal and sell Social Security numbers.

The problem with solving the problem: There’s an obvious next step to solving the problem — using the Social Security number like a username and using something else as a password or changing the number to something harder to steal, like a biometric. But many of the global models require national databases that the U.S. populace is traditionally against.

  • India uses a biometric ID system, but U.S. citizens won’t enjoy giving up their fingerprints to the government.
  • A national ID with a smart chip could solve the problem, but U.S. citizens don’t love national IDs.

The bottom line: A middle-ground solution, according to the report, might be to allow private companies to run smart card based identifiers, kind of like a credit card. Citizens could chose who would be in charge of holding their data and replacing lost or stolen cards.

  • Worley agrees there’s a downside that would need to be ironed out: It’s hard to get private firms involved without necessitating a subscription model.

Go deeper

Mark Meadows will stop cooperating with Jan. 6 panel, attorney says

Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, his attorney told Fox News Tuesday.

Why it matters: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel last month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.

Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.