Caution, imposters! How will you identify a fake profile on social media?

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Hacker (pixabay photo)

The prime minister claimed that a spokeswoman named Dana Ron had posted a post allegedly calling for his assassination. A big storm has arisen in the network, but at the moment it is not at all clear whether this is a real person or a fake profile. Fake profile (also known as avatars or “stocking dolls”) sock puppets) Ancient as the social networks themselves.

The anonymity that the Internet allows causes people to act under false identities for various motives – fear of exposure, fear of lawsuits or harassment and even more malicious motives – for example, a number of espionage and intelligence gathering cases have been published in which Chinese and Russian spies used social media to recruit aides and gather sensitive information. They start by requesting a connection, continue by sending a message offering the victim to serve as a consultant to a Chinese company. As part of the consulting services, the same person is asked to provide an opinion on technological and geopolitical trends. In all cases the victims are sure that they are in contact with real people, flesh and blood and do not imagine that behind the profile is an intelligence analyst.

How to identify a fake profile?
The way to spot a fake profile is to think like the one who created it. There are two types of such profiles – simple profiles designed to create “mass” (of likes, loud comments, etc.). The second is sophisticated profiles built over time and while paying attention to detail.

Respectively, a fake profile will usually manifest itself in one of two suspicious signs – poverty in details or excessive wealth in very prominent details. The first type is relatively easy to identify – a profile that was opened very recently, with a low number of connections, without a picture or with a generic picture (say – of Kopenhagen’s beach), and missing parts in the profile (for example – without specifying the academic institution where the man studied).

The subject of the image is essential – it is very difficult to forge an image today, so forged profiles will usually not contain an image of a person but of an object, animal or place. Another thing that is difficult to falsify is history – it is impossible to go back in time and create a profile in the past. The “fresh” profile is of course very suspicious, as is an older profile that has not been active for a long time and has suddenly returned to activity. User activity is also extremely difficult to fake – a normative user on social networks responds from time to time, shares content, writes posts and also uploads photos of himself or his family. A profile that has been around for a long time but shows no signs of activity, and “suddenly” comes to life and begins to bombard with highly suspicious rhino posts.

A “rich” profile is more difficult to identify. Such a profile will contain an attractive profile picture, several hundred connections as well as an extensive biography. How do we still recognize it as “Pike”? Well, the old rule of the internet (and life in general) catches on here too. If the offer is too good it is probably not real. That is – it is easier to identify the motive than the fake profile itself. For example: if a very pretty woman who looks like a Victoria’s Secret model sends you a request for membership (and these will usually be profiles of women who will “start” with men’s profiles) she is probably not an industrial and management engineer. The same goes for CEOs of giant companies or those with the highest ranks – the chances of someone like this approaching you on their own initiative and asking to connect with you are low. is very.

It is also worthwhile to carefully examine the text that accompanies the membership offer. Most of the time the text will offer us to purchase a particular product or service (then the applicant’s motivation is clear). If the text contains broken English or a strange request this is a strong indication that the profile owner is not who he is introducing himself to.

Finally, if you still suspect something is wrong, it’s worth checking out. If that person is connected to your friends – ask them if they know him and if they have met or talked to him in real life. If you do not have common connections – check the name on Google. If the same person has profiles on other social networks with the same level of detail and activity, chances are he is indeed real. This is because most operators of those avatars do not bother to create and maintain avatars across multiple platforms).

The author is Yotam Gutman, Marketing Director of Cyber ​​Sentinel One

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