We all receive spam email from time to time and have probably all been asked to send our bank account details so that millions of dollars/pounds/euros can be deposited in our accounts. If you have a spam filter that gets rid of all of these I’d like to hear. However digital deception goes much further than that.
In my field, biology, there have been two recent cases of identity theft for well established print journals that did not have a web presence. You can read more about them on the Scholarly Open Access blog by Jeffrey Beall. One of the journals has reacted by quickly setting up its own ‘real’ website and both are taking legal advice. The fake websites did not need to get hold of any private information and it appears that they could set up with a good business model to sell back issues of the journals for $550 a go! Scanning and digitising paper journals is now a routine task and at that price not many copies would have to sell to make a profit on the time spent setting up the sites.
This leads me to think that we no longer have a choice about digital presence. If individuals, journals or companies do not generate their own digital identity its likely someone else will see a business opportunity in doing so. Our primary presence is an internet presence to those who have not met us, whether they are would be employers, possible collaborators or potential students. However ‘real’ your internet presence is, make sure it is one that you decide.