How often does identity theft go unnoticed

Identity Theft on the Internet: How It Works and How to Protect Yourself

Author:Alexander Wragge, David Pachali

An email address, a Facebook profile, an online banking account - we identify each other on the Internet using data streams. The problem: Cyber ​​bullies can make life difficult for us. Criminals can abuse our digital identity for fraud. An overview of identity theft.

The credit card is gone. The phone too. The passport. Kathrin B. was robbed in Glasgow. She needs help. She has to collect 1,900 euros to fly home again. She writes that in an email. Subject: "Urgent". Below is the address of a Scottish branch of Western Union, a provider of worldwide cash transfers. I should send your money there. She expects my "quick response". The strange thing is that Kathrin B. is not in Scotland at all, but in my kitchen.

Many have already had experiences like this. Fraudsters hack an e-mail inbox or a social network account and beg everyone for money. The scam has always been successful.

The fake emails are just one possible form of identity fraud. The digital age is also opening up completely new opportunities for fraudsters to obtain personal data from others and to fake someone else's identity. They open Ebay accounts under someone else's name and cheat their customers, they go on a shopping spree with someone else's credit card information, they spy out online banking access and empty accounts.

Bank details and email accounts popular destination
The perpetrators are interested in all types and forms of digital identities that they could use in criminal business models. This includes, for example, access data for communication services such as e-mail, Skype or social networks. They are also interested in access to online shops, banks, auction portals and booking systems for flights, hotels or rental cars. In 2014, around 6,984 cases of phishing in online banking were reported to the Federal Criminal Police Office. Fraudsters use fake e-mails or websites to intercept access data in order to get someone else's money. Thanks to new, secure procedures, the number initially fell in recent years, but then rose again - a race between provider and attacker, as is often the case in IT security.

Often, third-party computers and e-mail accounts are also hijacked in order to connect them to so-called botnets. Such “zombie computers” then send massive amounts of spam unnoticed by the user. In 2014, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) drew attention to two cases of enormous proportions. Researchers and law enforcement agencies unearthed botnets that comprised around 16 million stolen email addresses and passwords in the first case and around 18 million in the second, including several million from Germany. Often the victims do not notice at first that their computers are infected and that their digital identity is being misused.