Digital impersonation – the use of a person’s, organization’s or company’s name, image, or other identifying factor for malicious or fraudulent purposes – is on the rise on social media and other online platforms.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that identity theft attacks have caused over $5.3 billion in losses worldwide.
With so much of our life happening online, we need to develop strong digital threat awareness skills, including understanding digital spoofing and knowing its warning signs.
social media impersonation
Using this tactic, cybercriminals can steal and use personally identifiable information (names, images, locations, background details, etc.) to create profiles on social media platforms. Scammers can impersonate individuals and organizations on social media and may be interacting with these fake accounts online.
Here are some of the reasons why cybercriminals create this kind of fraudulent accounts.
● Phishing or attempting to steal someone else’s money, passwords, or personal data
● Convincing individuals to click on malicious links
● Catfish phishing (establishing dishonest relationships online using fake identities)
How to protect yourself from digital spoofing
So how do you spot a fake account? Generally, fake accounts are recently created and have very few friends or followers. They may send strange-sounding messages with suspicious links, or misspell account names, URLs, or messages.
Be cautious when online and do not share personal information or images when accepting new friend or follower requests. Never give money to anyone who asks for it online. Leave any sites that seem suspicious to you.
If you’re worried about scammers stealing your identity, adjust your privacy settings to keep your profile private and think carefully about the information you share in updating your profile. For example, they can use your personal information, such as your child’s or pet’s name, to create a fake digital account in your name.
To look for hackers who may have stolen your digital ID, search your name online regularly and see what comes up. Reverse image search also allows you to upload a photo and see where that image is used online.
How the metaverse can contribute to the problem
The Metaverse, a persistent shared virtual world that users can access from different devices and platforms using their avatars, offers a much more immersive experience for users around the world and is still in its early stages of development.
But with the immersive world of the Metaverse comes wonder and awe, but also danger.
In the Metaverse, your online friends appear as custom avatars so you can recognize them. However, hackers can hijack metaverse identities and commit fraud. For example, if a hacker breaks into your account, they can contact your friends and ask for passwords, data, money, or other information while pretending to be you online.
This type of impersonation scam in the Metaverse is even more intrusive and invasive than other types of online impersonation and can cause significant financial or reputational damage.
There is also the risk of unknowingly interacting with crooks in the metaverse. If a hacker appears in front of you in the metaverse, you might think you’re interacting with a friend, but it could be a malicious stranger.
Metaverse users should be trained on how to avoid this type of social spoofing attack to protect themselves and their networks.
looking to the future
Humans are hardwired to trust others and have a deep need for connection, often met through digital interaction. Cybercriminals take advantage of these qualities to prey on people who are consuming content quickly, and can catch you off guard if you’re not careful.
Researchers and other cybersecurity professionals are working with law enforcement agencies and legal experts to find solutions to this growing problem, but they’re struggling to keep their online identities hacked. Developing digital threat awareness skills is of paramount concern to us.