Section Three - Identity Thieves
A story about the impact of someone stealing your identity online (5 minutes)
In this crash course we are looking at some bad actors. The list is not complete, we are just covering a number of different bad actors. In section two we got to know the hackers. In this section we look at a specific kind of hacker: the identity thief.
:Let's start with this video (2 minutes):
Ask yourself this question: on how many websites did you leave your credit card details? Were they all safe? Are you sure? The most common form is financial identity theft. Often because a website or a database was hacked. Hackers try to steal your credit card information and sell it to someone else.
There are also other kinds of identity theft, for example, related to your social media use. Suppose someone is sending your friends awful messages or is tweeting hateful tweets using your account? Or sending threatening e-mails to your boss. Or using your Wi-Fi to surf child porn websites? The big difference between this kind of identity theft and hacking is that research shows that half the victims of all identity theft cases know the person that is responsible. It is often a co-worker, a neighbour,, a friend, or children that steal the credit card data of the parents.
Hackers are usually anonymous. An identity thief is often someone you know.
Identity theft can be very stressful. Just check this video (3 minutes):
Quick exercise: ask one of your fellow students or co-workers to provide you with their name and find out how much of an identity you can construct by just using online searches.
Preventing identity theft
It is simple, really. The more data you leave online. The more your personal information is known online. The more you create an online personality. The easier it becomes to steal your identity. There are a number of precautions you can take against this.
- Keep things to a minimum. Use social media sparingly. Wow, that is hard! Still, try an alias.
- Keep personal things online to a minimum (again, very hard for a lot of people);
- Use strong and different passwords;
- Pay a service. Some services can check if your identity is still safe. Some services are identity thieves themselves;
- Be self aware. Check your credit card statements, for example;
- Keep your computer up to date;
- Browse safely.
These are simple tips, but the main problem is that real people are linked to online identities and real people tend to underestimate risks and prefer short-term pleasures to long-term risks. At the same time, identity theft has a huge impact. That is why it is so important to take this into account when you are thinking about a technology, or are going to design, program, implement or use it.
- Does a technology protect identities enough?
- Can it be used easily to impersonate someone?
Take aways from section three:
- Identity theft is a special, kind of hacking;
- The more and more you increase your online identity, the more the increases;
- Identity theft is very impactful and therefore deserves careful consideration.