Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Russian "Fancy Bear" creation of fake websites could create an identity theft threat

A recent report by major news media on Russian hackers creating fake websites relative to some conservative think tanks and politicians could have serious implications in the identity theft world. 
Alex Johnson has a typical story about “Fancy Bear” on NBC News. 

The implication is that foreign hackers could create websites purporting to belong to controversial individuals.  This might work with celebrities, but would possibly be very serious for those less well known if foreign interests wanted to make examples of them in order to show a certain kind of combativeness.

Hosting companies and domain registrars could be pressured to prevent fake registration, or (without net neutrality) telecom companies could be pressured not to allow them to connect. 

There have been numerous cases of fake Facebook profiles of even lesser known people (this has happened to me once, and it was caught quickly by a friend before any material was posted on it). 

Usually these get removed quickly.  Twitter also has a false profile problem with celebrities, but has gotten better at catching and removing them.  When you find a celebrity profile with few or no tweets, you can question whether it is fake.

Platforms in which a person does not have an account can present an issue.  When I got an Instagram account, I found a fake one there with no posts, and it had to be removed first.
There could be serious problems if lesser known people were falsely implicated in criminal activity by fake profiles.  This is also obviously an “online reputation” issue.  There have been prosecutions when a person’s router was used surreptitiously for criminal purposes.  This can also be a problem when having quests (hosting or Airbnb), and is usually handled by allowing only guest account use.

Experian actually recommends people register their families (or even every member) as domain names through ICANN as an identity theft prevention tool.  But I can see how this could cause objections.

Russia still insists it "hears" (from Trump) that there was no "meddling" in the 2016 elections.  These attacks may have been directed at those who were most critical of Putin, this time.  Remember Sony and North Korea. 

It could be possible for someone's identity to be hijacked overseas, and be arrested only when in another country, maybe if compelled to travel to a less stable country for work. 

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