Nicknapping is the term used to describe the condition in which a nickname, or “nickname,” is used illegally and without permission. This misuse of the nickname often occurs in conjunction with stolen passwords, access information and other personal data.
The composition of the term is derived from the English-language term“nickname” and the word “napping,” which is short for “kidnapping.” N-napping primarily appears in connection with chat portals and social networks. The primary aim is to damage the reputation of a particular person. By installing malicious software products on inadequately secured systems, computers are accessed in order to spy on private access data and the associated nicknames. This is usually associated with the decryption of other private information related to the nickname.
Cybercriminals use the stolen private data to register new accounts in the name of their victims, who of course are initially unaware of this process. Thus, targeted identity abuse occurs. By using stolen photos and other personal information, “realistic” fake profiles of the victims can be created in this way. The fake profiles are then used to make statements on forums or social media platforms and to communicate with other users. Different techniques and approaches can be used, for example:
- A fake profile is used to make intentionally racist, immoral or sexist statements with the aim of damaging the victim’s reputation.
- Cybercriminals use fake profiles to communicate with and spy on the friends of the victim.
Nicknapping can have disastrous consequences for the victim and can have a negative impact on their career and reputation for years.
How can nicknapping occur?
Nicknapping occurs because a nickname on the World Wide Web is not a real name. Specifically, a nickname is not protected and is merely a nickname with no relevance. In turn, the access data and other information associated with a nickname that is spied out by fraudsters constitutes a criminal offence in Germany. Anyone who thinks they may have become a victim of N-Napping should do the following:
- Create evidence such as screenshots and chat logs that prove the facts.
- Notify the administrators of a social network, platform or forum of the incident.
- If identity theft is involved, a report should be filed with the police immediately.
If N-Napping is reported, it happens in many cases that the act is punishable as fraud. However, depending on the nature of the act, other criminal offenses may also be highlighted, such as:
In any case, it is advisable to remain vigilant against this form of cybercrime and to change your own access data and passwords at regular intervals.
Nicknapping is a real danger that takes place in particular on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
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