Feeds

Online impersonations: no validation required

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Next page: Hunting imposters

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.