Information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide substantial benefits to governments, organizations and individuals through providing low cost, instantaneous, global communication capabilities. However, an unintended consequence of these new technologies is their use for criminal purposes. The technology can be used as the mechanism for organizing and committing criminal activity and as a means of protecting criminals against detection and punishment. Cyber identity theft is an internationally recognized problem resulting from the introduction of new information technologies. This chapter provides an overview of cyber identity theft and related fraud, describing the impact of cyber identity theft on governments, organizations, law enforcement agencies and individuals. Methods currently being used, or proposed, to combat cyber identity fraud are outlined and the potential impact of these examined. The tension between using technological solutions to reduce cyber identity theft and privacy and civil liberties concerns is explored.
Identity Theft, Identity Fraud And Identity Crime
Identity theft involves the theft of legal identity, manifest in identity tokens such as SSNs, documents or knowledge of factual information that identifies an individual. That is, it is the theft of a pre-existing identity for use in presenting oneself as somebody else (Finch, 2003; Australasian Centre for Policing Research, 2006).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Cyber Identity Theft: cyber identity theft refers to the on-line misappropriation of identity tokens using information and communication technologies.
Identity Crime: Identity crime refers to the use of false and/or stolen identities for criminal purposes. It encompasses both identity theft and identity fraud.
Biometrics: Biometrics are unique physiological or behavioural attributes of the individual that may be utilized for verification and authentication of identity. Examples of biometrics include fingerprints, voice, retina, facial structure, DNA profile, and heat radiation.
Identity Fraud: Identity fraud is the use of false and/or stolen identities to obtain money, goods, services or other benefits.
Phishing: Phishing refers to the use of emails and websites to ‘fish’ for personal information such as credit card numbers, back account information and passwords to use for fraudulent purposes.
Keyloggers: Malicious software (‘malware’) installed on victims computers to record keystrokes (including passwords and logins).
Identity theft: Identity theft involves the theft of legal identity, manifest in identity tokens such as SSNs, documents or knowledge of factual information that identifies an individual.