What is 'Cyber Identity'

Cyber identity refers to the personality or personalities that are created through a person’s online interactions. Cyber identity may differ from a person's actual, offline identity. In the early days of the internet, anonymity allowed for people to create very different personalities and express themselves in comments, posts and other interactions in ways that they could otherwise not. As the anonymity on many platforms led to less than friendly environments with cyber-bullying and illegal transactions conducted, several large internet firms have taken steps to authenticate cyber identities with their real world counterparts.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cyber Identity'

Cyber identities were commonly used as a way to escape reality, and so the idea of having a separate cyber identity wildly different from your own wasn’t uncommon prior to the rise of social media. Some used this sense of escapism reasonably, taking a break from real life to pretend that they were someone else online, where no one could easily call them out. In chat rooms, people would often pose as different genders, races or simply as richer, more attractive versions of themselves. In many online communities this is still possible and, in most cases, harmless fun. In some cases, however, people used their cyber identities to be menacing. Racism, sexism, and homophobia were so common in many forums and comments sections that the primary job of moderators was to ban people. This understandably turned people off of interacting on some major platforms, which is bad for business when you are Google (YouTube) or Facebook.

The online world started to authenticate cyber identities with real world counterparts in 2012, when YouTube began encouraging users to use their real names and Google+ profile pictures. Facebook started weeding out fake profiles around the same time, and began purging profiles in large numbers in 2015.

Your Idealized Cyber Identity

Even in this “authenticated” environment, however, most people’s cyber identity still differ from their real one. The pictures and posts we put on the internet are carefully curated to show the best of who we are. The groups we follow and engage in may represent who we want to be seen as rather than who we are. This gap between the real identity and the cyber identity is a gold mine for marketers. By matching up demographic data with behavioral analytics from online sources, marketers can better target offers and ads based not just on who you are, but on who you want to be seen as. Do you post most frequently when you are vacation and go blank the rest of the year? Guess who is going to see a lot of travel rewards cards and ticket deal ads.

The value of a person’s cyber identity grows when it can be authenticated. Google, Facebook, and other large online companies collect all the data they can and use it to keep you engaged in their platforms. They also sell it to others, marketers being one of the big buyers. As we pour more of our lives into our profiles and add data from new internet enabled devices, our cyber identities are becoming less anonymous and more and more like our real selves - just with a better lens and slight filter to touch it up.  

  1. Social Identity

    A company's image as derived from its relationships. An organization's ...
  2. Synthetic Identity Theft

    Synthetic identity theft is a type of fraud in which a criminal ...
  3. Substantially Identical Security

    A substantially identical security is one that is so similar ...
  4. SelfKey (KEY)

    SelfKey offers easy decentralized identity management to make ...
  5. Supply Chain Attack

    A supply chain attack is a cyberattack that attempts to inflict ...
  6. Data Breach

    A data breach is an unauthorized access and retrieval of sensitive ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Top Cyber Security Risks for Financial Advisors

    Cyber crime is on the rise. Here's what advisory firms, big and small, need to be aware of and how to prepare.
  2. Tech

    Microsoft Will Use Blockchain To Build New Digital Identity

    Microsoft plans to use blockchain to build a new digital identity that gives users control over their personal details.
  3. Tech

    Millennials at Higher Risk of Identity Theft

    Tech savvy Millenials are particularly prone to becoming a victim of identify theft.
  4. Tech

    Why Tech Giants Are Acquiring Cyber Security Companies (SNE, HACK)

    Explore the factors behind the rise and consolidation of the cyber security segment, and the reasons why tech companies are targeting these firms for acquisition.
  5. Financial Advisor

    Top Hacks to Protect Clients from Tax Scams

    There are many ways that clients can be victimized in today’s digital world, but there are also many ways to protect against these invasions. Here are some.
  6. Insights

    Are Identity Theft Protection Services Worth Having?

    Start here before deciding whether you need this coverage.
  7. Tech

    Staying Safe After the Equifax Data Breach

    The recent Equifax breach illustrates why you need to protect your identity. Here's how.
  8. Tech

    Tips For Keeping Your Financial Data Safe Online

    Find out how to protect your personal information from phishers, scammers and thieves.
  9. Tech

    3 Steps to Protect Yourself After a Security Breach

    Three steps you can take to protect yourself from an online security breach.
  10. Insights

    Identity Theft: Who To Call For Help

    If your identity is stolen, it's critical to act fast. Find out what to do if it happens and who to call.
  1. Why would someone change their Social Security number?

    Learn the reasons a person might choose to change his Social Security number, including identity theft and abuse, and discover ... Read Answer >>
  2. Why do option volume quotes differ on different websites?

    Option quotes are different in price and in volume because identical options can trade on more than one market or exchange. ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Diversification

    Diversification is the strategy of investing in a variety of securities in order to lower the risk involved with putting ...
  2. Intrinsic Value

    Intrinsic value is the perceived or calculated value of a company, including tangible and intangible factors, and may differ ...
  3. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet item that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  4. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  5. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  6. Cost of Debt

    Cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its current debt as part of its capital structure.
Trading Center