13 January 2017 at 2:29 pm Written by

2017 already seems to be the year for fake news. Perhaps defined as websites, or social media posts that are an attempt to play on people who do not check sources and who just pass the news on. Many of us are guilty of ‘retweeting’ or ‘liking’ what I would know as the ‘recreational information’ we get from social media platforms. Do we always bother to check it for reliability? Probably not.

That got me thinking about the sheer volume of ‘fake news’ and ‘fake stories’ and how they could impact upon Customer Due Diligence (CDD). CDD now occupies a considerable amount of my time in terms of training and investigations. Some recent investigations have found me looking at several websites that claim to be the font of all knowledge for overseas companies. When in fact they exist purely as a platform for advertisers or paid services. Just one example of a poor resource. I could go on.

Failing to validate information for CDD purposes should not be overlooked. Turning to Google (and other search engines) to gather information is but one part of the puzzle. Cutting through swathes of returns when searching to get what you want is of course a skill. But another vital aspect of the process has got to be the credibility of the source. Just how reliable is that item you have copied, used or referred to in your report? Could that link you have just clicked on launch malware? There are websites out there that exist simply to bait us into looking at what we perceive to be interesting. Clicking on an embedded image, video or link could also have disastrous consequences unless it is assessed before use.

Assessing credibility of your source is fundamental. I often receive instructions on the basis that the client has found something online but doesn’t know how best to interpret it.

I have to confess that I like acronyms and I’ve been using one for this area on my courses for some time. Whilst it cannot cover every single eventuality, it gets delegates thinking about taking a minute or two to evaluate online data. I call it ‘Avoiding a SHAM’ I will cover it very briefly here;

Source – How satisfied are you that your source is a credible one? Is it from an established and reliable source?

History – What is the history of what you are looking at. Is a date evident?

Accuracy – How satisfied are you that what you are viewing is both accurate and authentic?

Match – What steps can you take to corroborate your data with another source?

My Digital Due Diligence course has an element devoted to this with examples of where significant numbers of people have been taken in by fake stories. Online investigations are not just about finding the information online or having a list of websites to check. To be competent in this area of investigations you have to satisfy yourself that the source or sources you intend to use in your decision making process is credible. It is an area that is becoming increasingly complex with issues of investigative security, privacy, data protection and EU-GDPR to contend with. Just one reason why we are pursuing course accreditation. Perhaps another subject for another day.

If you would like details of up-coming training courses, or are interested in an in house package please take a look at my website (its credible, trust me) http://www.intelectsolutions.im/digital-due-diligence/

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