Feeds

Online impersonations: no validation required

How do you know what's real and what's not?

The essential guide to IT transformation

Back when I lived in the Silicon Valley, there was an ongoing employment scam. Prospective employees would show up with perfect resumes and immediately get hired. It would not take long before it was clear that these people did not have the experience stated on their resumes. Within six months they would be fired.

However, now they had six months of legitimate experience with real companies that they could reference. Their next jobs might not be as good or glamorous, but it would be much better than if they started with their real resumes.

In order to combat false credentials and gain insight into potential candidates, hiring managers have turned to web search engines and social networking sites to augment their screening process. According to a survey last October, hiring managers claimed that up to a third of candidates lied about their qualifications.

In addition, about one in ten candidates had posted inappropriate messages or images in public forums, making them less desirable than candidates who always appear professional. The problems with having a less than stellar online persona were covered in a recent NPR story.

However, while resume padding has been around for years, online impersonation has only begun playing a role. What if your online profile included an inappropriate statement that you never made? In most online forums, anonymity and impersonations are trivially accomplished since you are never asked for verifiable information during enrolment. This becomes a two-stage problem. First, you must be able to identify that an impersonation is taking place. And second, you need to know how to take corrective actions.

Bad impersonations

When people think of impersonations, they usually think of identity theft and financial crimes. However, the impacts from online impersonations can be significant.

For example, one of my associates had a free email account similar to "john.doe@gmail.com". Someone with a grudge registered "john_doe@gmail.com" (underscore instead of a period) and began to send out emails that impersonated the individual. The emails were intended to undermine his credibility. Unless you looked very closely at the email sender's address, you would not realise that it was an imposter. As another example, in 2006 a police officer impersonated his ex-girlfriend and used the account to solicit dates. Men actually appeared at her house expecting a romantic interlude.

While financial impersonations may take years to rectify, information and false postings on the web may circulate indefinitely. Distinguishing fact from fiction and true actions from an imposter's can be virtually impossible. The requirements for removing an imposter vary from simple web forms to nightmarish runarounds.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Next page: Hunting imposters

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.