Posts Tagged ‘anonymous services’

Online Identity Theft

The Internet proved to be a perfect environment for many new crimes, including a new version of identity theft – online identity theft. Online identity theft involves the gathering of confidential private information from the vast amount of information that is transferred through inherently anonymous services like e-mail, instant messaging and other web-based communication.

Identity thieves, do nothing more than exploiting basic human psychology. People’s instincts cause them to be open, trustful and naïve. Their will to cooperate, their desire to befriend other human beings and their respect for authority are their weaknesses. They cause them to reveal confidential information about themselves, their families, friends, companies, organization, etc. without even thinking for a moment how this information may be used.

But why? Why don’t people think before they talk? Well for the most part, many of them don’t actually realize what can one do using the information they provide. But for a skillful social engineer even a name or a phone number may be enough.

Despite the most common believes, most of the times online identity theft is not perpetrated by organized professional groups of IT specialists. With the rise of social networks and “sharing” of personal information, nearly anyone with mediocre computer skills can get enormous amounts of private information for most users.

But how can one prevent identity theft? Well, the first thing is awareness. People must know that revealing even a little piece of private information may have devastating effects. How? Consider this, a man contacts you and provides you with just enough “private” information for you to assume that he can be trusted, before you know it you have supplied him with enough “private” information for him to continue his scheme. How? He’ll use the information you provided to get more information. Soon, he has enough information to steal yours, your family’s, your friends’, your boss’s, etc. identity. Call it “the domino effect of information theft”.

What else? Strict policy for handling confidential information (whether personal or corporate). For companies this means awareness campaigns, trainings, protocols, etc. For users… well it pretty much means protocol. Yes, It all comes down to this – protocol. Even a tiny diversion from the protocols may turn out to be the key to the gate.

We’ll finish with this example of why protocol must be followed to the letter:

A colleague has just asked you a question about the new project you are working on, via his personal (and not corporate) e-mail. What do you do?

You answer? Wrong! Congratulations, you just revealed information about your company’s project to someone who has managed to compromise your colleague’s personal e-mail.

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Japanese city migrates its entire website to Facebook

The first city to replace all of its public websites with Facebook pages is the Japanese city Takeo. Officials pointed the “open nature” of the social network as their main reason.

The social network was pretty slow to establish itself in Japan. The main reason for that is that users prefer anonymous services and hangouts.

City officials in Takeo, stated that when they used anonymous services, users posted rude (often mixed with a lot of profanity) commentaries which were not actually helpful.

“When people give their opinions or ask questions, they should take responsibility for this as adults, and this should be done using their real names” stated the mayor of Takeo Keisuke Hiwatashi. The page  http://www.facebook.com/takeocity is setup so that anyone can see its content, but you must be registered to leave comments. Most of the materials are actually hosted on government servers, but are accessible only through Facebook.

According to city officials the whole migration cost 630 000 yen (around $8200). The transition was resisted by many people because they were not familiar with Facebook.

Takeo officials have already expressed their satisfaction, as pretty much all of the comments and complaints they have received are no longer meaningless aggressive criticism – exactly the opposite, they are actually quite reasonable.

However, in an online debate, many people have expressed their reservation and have criticized the choice of Takeo’s officials as it interferes with their right to state their problems and complaints anonymously.

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