When you are on the Internet, you should know who you are interacting with at all times. That’s why digital identities exist, and are utilized by computer systems to represent external agents. These agents may be a device, application, organization, or an individual person. Every digital identity features zero or more identity attributes. Oftentimes, they contain information about a subject, such as a person’s age, bank balance, online buying behavior, medical history, and more. Today, the potential threat of cyber criminals stealing digitalized identities should never be taken lightly.
Understanding the Threat of Identity Theft
There are two categories of identity theft you should be aware of:
- Account takeover: Cyber criminals steal your information via illegal access to your computer. They perform transactions in your name and/or log in to existing accounts. This type of identity theft is dangerous because you may suffer from significant financial loss.
- True name: A thief uses personal information to register services or open accounts in your name, to perform transactions at online marketplaces. Similarly, you can encounter significant financial loss when this happens.
Who Owns Your Digital Identity?
Most people would assume that the answer is the individual, himself or herself. However, corporations today can claim consumer digital identities. In fact, they are the currency that pays for Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and other services that are offered by popular social media companies. Since our online identities are “products” being sold to advertisers, you can see that we do not truly own our digital identities. This happens because we have already agreed to the fine print of the terms of agreement, which no one actually takes time to read.
You may think that it is now pointless to continue protecting your online identities. However, they still matter because digital identity misuse or fraudulent behavior can ruin your credit score, get your prescription drugs illegally re-routed to a thief, and more!
Can You Recover Stolen Digital Identities?
Continuous breaches can eventually expose the complete picture of one’s digital identity. In today’s digital age, everyone has to face the reality that it is an impossible task to reclaim stolen consumer digital identities. If protecting online identities and their attributes is a lost cause, what’s the solution? Well, you can start by implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) to prevent a digital identity from falling into the wrong hands from the get-go. Alternatively, you can consider using a soft token system. These tokens feature a six-digit code that refreshes at thirty-minute intervals.
Although nothing in security is foolproof, you still need to take the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim of consumer identity breaches. The consequences are often costly. In addition, it is time to move past the stage of using single factors of something one knows for authentication, and get to the stage of making multiple factors the norm. Today, one’s mother’s maiden name is no longer an adequate means of extra identification.
If you are concerned about protecting your employees’ and your own digital identities while facilitating work via the Internet, it’s wise to opt for specialized IT solutions pertaining to cyber threat protection and managed security.