Interpol Chief Admits Facebook ID Theft

By: Tracy Levine, President, Advantage Talent Inc.

As most people have heard by now, Interpol Chief Ronald Noble announced at the inaugural Interpol Security Conference in Hong Kong that criminals had used Facebook to steal his identity.  Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, they did not gain access to his identity by stealing information off of his Facebook Account.  Two Facebook Accounts were set up in Noble’s name where the criminals gathered information about a recent global Interpol-led Operation Infra Red.  The operation was for tracking down criminal fugitives who had fled national jurisdictions. 

Web 2.0 social networking is a catch-22 for many people.  Some think it is dangerous to put any information about themselves out on the web.  While others have no qualms about putting everything about themselves out on the internet.  There have been numerous articles written on the dangers of putting too much personal information on the internet.  In contrast, very few articles have addressed the consequences of not owning and managing your Web 2.0 social networking information.

If you do not claim your identity, brand and image someone else might. If Interpol Chief Robert Noble’s identity can be stolen, then anyone’s can.  It shows the ease with which the criminals are able to forge people’s identities across all forms of social media sites to steal information.  While I would not necessarily suggest everybody sign up for every Web 2.0 platform available, I would strongly suggest executives claim and control their Linkedin Profile.  For an executive, his/her contacts, clients and industry knowledge could be at stake if he/she ignores their Linkedin Profile.

According to Alexa, Linkedin traffic rank is 17th in the US and 27th in the world.   What does this mean to the typical executive?  Linkedin will come up before almost every company website in the US.  I.E. There are only 16 websites in the U.S. that rank higher than Linkedin.  If someone claims your identity on Linkedin, they have effectively stolen your identity.  Google Search and most other search engines will pull up your name in Linkedin on the first page before your company profile or any other internet information.  With aggregators such as ZoomInfo, 123 and many more, if someone steals your identity on Linkedin, the false information will get picked up by the web aggregators. It doesn’t take long for the identity theft to go viral.

What Executive group is the most vulnerable to Web 2.0 identity theft? The group that Interpol Chief Noble belongs to, 50+ years old.  According to Alexa, the largest group to participate on Linkedin is the 35 to 44 year age range.  The 55+ years and above age range are statistically too low to calculate.  This means that a large group of some of the most influential executives in the U.S. have left themselves vulnerable to a situation similar to Interpol Chief Ronald Noble.

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