Compliance Management, Network Security, Privacy

USPS introduces snail mail alerts to help secure Informed Delivery service

Having recently introduced a new "Informed Delivery" service that could potentially allow snoops to read scanned images of another person's or business' mail, the U.S. Postal Service is reportedly now sending out snail mail notifications to individuals to make sure that they knowingly have been signed up for the program.

According to security expert Brian Krebs, the Informed Delivery service poses a potential privacy threat due to a weak knowledge-based authentication process when signing up for the advance notification service, which sends users emails containing scanned images of the front of each envelope that will soon be arriving in the mail. Krebs also warned that the opt-out process is too difficult.

After exposing the privacy concerns last October, Krebs followed up with a new blog post yesterday, reporting that the USPS has responded -- informing him that as of Feb. 16, the government agency has been sending the aforementioned mailed alerts to any address that signs up for Informed Delivery.

Krebs further reported that if someone who previously registered for the service posts a change of address request, the USPS "sends a mailer with a special code tied to the new address and to the [online] username that requested the change. To resume Informed Delivery at the new address, that code needs to be entered online using the account that requested the address change."

The USPS reportedly told Krebs that roughly 8.1 million accounts have been created for the Informed Delivery service, and that post offices managed about 50,000 Informed Delivery notifications during of the week of Feb. 16.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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