The Aladdin Annual Threat Report for 2009 was recently released by the Aladdin Attack Intelligence Center. With so much personal data stored online, the web continues to be the primary target for identity theft. With the rise and proliferation of social media sites, identity theft no longer consist solely of some anonymous hacker stealing credit card or bank account information off an unsecured site; they can now steal your actual personality, and create fake profiles on any social media site.For an individual, the consequences of a faked identity on a social media site could mean a damaged reputation, stolen financial information and more. According to Ian Amit, director of research at Aladdin’s Attack Intelligence Research Center, this theft will be “devastating, both on the personal level by creating difficulties in employment, ruining social and professional connections, damaging reputations; as well as on a financial level, such as stealing customers, corporate data,” (Read Write Web, Feb. 3, 209)Businesses who have not embraced the social media landscape yet are at particular risk. Even if your company has no plans in the near future to participate in social media marketing, leaving your business name and any variations open to the public to set up and manage is a huge risk to your company’s reputation. What happens if an angry customer decides to set up a Twitter account with your brand name and posts damaging comments daily? Hundreds or thousands of people begin following your stolen social identity, not knowing that this profile is not being managed by the actual company. At some point those people will discover the truth, but then you look just as foolish for not being proactive about protecting your brand online.
The solution? While not the best way to utilize social media, establish social media profiles for your company on the top social properties: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc. Even if you don’t have the resources to manage these profiles, at least you’re preventing some disgruntled customer, or employee from damaging your reputation and preventing you from owning your identity in the social world.