Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Talented Mr. Ripley is on the loose on the Internet

A year ago, today ...

The writer Patricia Highsmith, in the mid-twentieth century, created Tom Ripley, a young man with an innate talent for survival. He was adapted several times into movies (the most famous one was directed by Anthony Minghella and played by Matt Damon), so the character became popular by his ability to adapt to any situation and become camouflaged with his surroundings. These skills allowed him to impersonate various people with little effort.

Although this ability is not accessible to everyone, with the advent of the internet anyone can be Mr. Ripley and impersonate someone else without anyone knowing. That is why identity theft has become one of the main concerns of all cybersecurity experts.
In our study of the week, we have remembered this character when we knew about the data collected by Identity Theft Resource Center. Identity theft is something that mainly affects individuals. For this very reason, many entrepreneurs believe that it is not a risk factor for their companies. They could not be more wrong.

The survey, focused on the aftermath of identity theft, shows terrifying data. More than half the victims of identity theft that resulted in tax fraud had to borrow money from family and friends and almost half of them could not meet their obligations. 1 out of 3 had to apply for some form of government aid, and 13 percent had to get an advance on their salary.

One of the main consequences of identity theft is constant paranoia. According to one of the participants, "It is a constant concern that someone can still use my information. I freeze all my accounts, and every time I do anything that requires my data I have to unfreeze my information in order to use it ".

But as we have already said, identity theft can also be a serious headache for businesspeople. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, victims of identity theft use around 175 working hours to address their theft cases. This translates into 21 wasted workdays per year. Employees may be in their jobs, but the distraction they experience will have a big impact on their productivity.

Just as throughout his life (fictitious, of course) Mr. Ripley was able to become several different people; we can see that identity theft can appear in different ways. Fraud related to employment, credit cards, bank fraud, telephone fraud... However, it seems that in recent years it has settled into the niche of tax fraud.

The IRS has responded to these data by increasing its education and awareness campaign efforts. Although there have been some positive results, we cannot forget that both users and companies play an important role in this fight.

Users are advised to file their taxes as early as possible, stay informed about the latest fraudulent schemes, protect their computers and mobile devices, avoid providing personal information over the phone or email, and destroy any tax-related documents that they no longer need.

On the other hand, companies should invest and develop technology that would help stop the vast majority of malicious emails and block dangerous websites, but above all that, they should educate their workers. A small manual with tips, such as not clicking on a suspicious link in an email or the procedure to report an incident should be essential.

The Talented Mr. Ripley took advantage of his "talent" to take advantage of other people and live with little effort. Cybercriminals also use their skills to supplant users and thus be able to profit from the most careless people. However, we struggle day by day to catch these impostors.


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