PEBES online waits in wings

PEBES online waits in wings

The Social Security Administration will not make Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statements available online again until secure privacy tools are available, an SSA official said.

'We have still been keeping PEBES on hold,' SSA chief information officer John R. Dyer said. 'It's security. We have to have at least a personal identification number or a public-key infrastructure' system in place.

During a month-long pilot two years ago, people tapped into PEBES data through SSA's Web site at www.ssa.gov. But the agency pulled the plug on the project after privacy advocates argued the site lacked security [GCN, Feb. 22, Page 3].

To gain access, users of the PEBES online program had to enter their names, Social Security numbers, dates and locations of birth, and their mother's maiden names.

But privacy advocates said the five factors did not ensure protection from illegal access.

PEBES is a year-by-year breakdown of earnings history and estimates of current and future Social Security benefits. People can request their PEBES via the agency's Web site, Dyer said, and SSA will mail the statements.

• SSA used Beyond 1999/Validate from CCD Online Systems Inc. of Arcadia, Calif., to verify remediated Cobol code for the year 2000 problem.

Beyond 1999/Validate checks up to 100,000 lines of remediated code per person per day.

The software runs on Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT.

'Using CCD's independent validation and verification tool helped us automate this quality assurance and recertification process and provided us with the accuracy and speed that we required,' said Kathleen M. Adams, assistant deputy commissioner for systems.

The agency's year 2000 program is regarded as a government model. More than 10 years ago, SSA was the first agency to begin remediation procedures, and this January it was the first to have all of its systems ready.

• Traffic continues to increase on SSA's Web site, at www.ssa.gov.

The site last year received 12 million visitors compared with 1 million visitors in 1995, Adams said.

And contrary to public opinion, she said, senior citizens do use the Internet in large numbers.

In addition to ensuring privacy on the Web, SSA continues to tackle exchanging personal data with states, Adams said.

inside gcn

  • A framework for secure software

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