The Internet means anonymity. Anyone can pretend to be anything or anyone. A guy would pretend to be a girl, and a girl would pretend to be a guy, or a machine will pretend to be either a girl or a guy. Sounds like a beginning of a sci-fi series, isn’t it? Welcome to the world of the Internet, all of these things happen here, and fortunately we all know these things happen, but what we don’t know is how to safeguard ourselves from such malicious behavior.
A guy pretending to be a girl or a girl pretending to be a guy sounds harmless, innocent. Mere a prank played by buddies on each other, but this apparently innocuous activity turned lethal when this prank blew out of proportion, and an individual or a group of individual assumes the personality of a company. People have been robbed of millions and millions of Dollars because of this pretending-to-be-something act, which can loosely get translated to be called identity theft.
The days of such deceiving activities are over now, or at least the beginning of the end has started. One micro-blogging site twitter and the arguably number one e-mail service provider Gmail has taken the lead to safeguard their users against misleading mails and misleading twitter profiles.
Couple of days back Gmail Lab has added an optional feature, “Authentication icon for verified senders” to all the Gmail account. To enable this feature in your Gmail account, you need to go to Settings>>Gmail Lab>> and then scroll down to “Authentication icon for verified senders” and click enable.
Enabling this feature will put a key icon (as shown in the picture) on the authentic mails coming from PayPal and eBay. This is an attempt to squelch the hackers’ attempt to steal money, personal information or both using these two services. PayPal and eBay users have been profusely targeted by hackers in the past. This is just the beginning, in time, Amazon, moneybookers and other authentic online retailers or other service providers will also get included in this safety net.
Similarly, twitter has started its “Verified Account” in beta mode to prevent people from following fake celebrities. This service is still in Beta mode, and available only to those hot-shots who suffer most due to “identity confusion or impersonation” as twitter puts it. Twitter puts a check-mark along with the word Verified Account above the name of the twitter account holder. (See picture)
I tested both these services, and am quite happy to see that the Barack Obama and the Kim kardeshian who are following me are verified users. If nothing else, it certainly is a nice ego booster.