ITGS Syllabus

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Topic 125

Social impact of theft of identity through the Internet by Alex Young

In today’s cyberspace world, identity theft is a growing and a more damaging problem than ever before. Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen for fraudulent purposes. Identity theft can occur in the internet in several ways. One way is that a person sets a webpage that looks like a legal website but in fact is a site where they take your personal information and use it for their own benefit. For example, a person might set up a website that looks identical to the PayPal website and looks like a credible resource but in fact is not. These kinds of sites are called phishing which is a site that tricks customers into giving their personal information.

Now with the holiday shopping underway, consumers must be careful and be fully aware that whatever shopping site they go to, they must make sure that it is a legal and a credible site. This can be done by common sense. If a sight looks fishy, do not purchase anything from there but purchase it from a trusted site such as Amazon or Other ways of identity theft is through a keylogger.

A keylogger in simple terms is a computer program that captures the keystrokes of a computer user and stores them some place secret. If a person places a keylogger onto your computer you are at an extremely high risk of being a victim of identity theft because now they know your member name and your password and without realizing it, transactions are made through sites such as Amazon even though you have purchased nothing. Also, keyloggers can store important data such as the person’s bank number, address, social security number and therefore, can influence that person’s life in a bad way.

Another common form of identity theft from the internet is by someone sending an e-mail that asks you for your financial or personal information for whatever reason. People might think that it must be important and be dealt with right away and fills in the necessary information without thinking twice about it. Using common sense again, we can find a solution to this problem. If an e-mail asks about trying to find out about your personal information, double check to know where the information is specifically coming from. If it is PayPal it is generally safe but if it is from some site you have never heard before, then delete the mail and move on.

There are also other ways to further try and protect yourself from identity theft by installing anti-virus and anti-spyware programs which will inform you if the site might be a suspicious site and also delete possible keyloggers that might be already installed on your computer. Also in the new IE browser (Internet Explorer 7) and in Mozilla Firefox 2.0 a phishing filter is included which alerts you if you visit a website and the browser finds it unsafe and is a nice new add-on to the browser to have a safe browsing experience.

Therefore as we can see, the social impact is very big because it can ruin a person’s life because of that person’s data being stolen from someone else and also we must realize that there are bad people trying to cheat themselves in life by trying to steal your own personal information for the benefit of that person. Although identity theft will never be completely eradicated; hopefully in the near future consumers will be more aware of this ongoing crisis in order to not fall victim of the trap the phishers might place upon us by trying to make a fraudulent website in order to retrieve our personal data.


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