Interpol chief has Facebook identity stolen

Criminals use bogus ID to research police targets

He's one of the most powerful people in world policing, but on Facebook Interpol chief Ronald K. Noble is just as vulnerable to identity theft as anyone else.

At last week's inagural Interpol Information Security Conference in Hong Kong, secretary general Noble revealed that criminals had set up two accounts impersonating him on the networking site during this summer's high-profile global dragnet, 'Operation Infra-Red'.

The fraud was discovered only recently by Interpol's Security Incident Response Team.

"One of the impersonators was using this profile to obtain information on fugitives targeted during our recent Operation Infra Red," Noble told delegates.

Operation Infra-Red, which took place between May and July of this year, was a global, Interpol-led operation to crack down on named criminal fugitives accused of murder, paedophilia, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering, who had fled national jurisdictions. The operation led to 130 arrests.

Noble is not believed to have had a professional profile on Facebook although his organisation does.

"Cybercrime is emerging as a very concrete threat. Considering the anonymity of cyberspace, it may in fact be one of the most dangerous criminal threats we will ever face," Noble was quoted as saying.

Although Facebook itself wasn't compromised in any way, the example cited by the Interpol head hinges on the ease with which the criminals were able to forge his identity without challenge. This is a problem both Facebook, and that other giant of social media, Twitter, have been grappling with.

Even for non-VIPs using real accounts, Facebook is a controversial place to put certain types of data. Last week, a study found that many US SMEs had suffered security problems they blamed on employee interest in the site.

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John E Dunn

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