The Friday interview: Tom Ilube, Garlik

11 Jan 2008

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes on the internet. Tom Ilube (pictured) is CEO of Garlik, a new consumer company helping people to protect their online identities

Some people would think if they don’t have an online social network presence like Facebook or Bebo they don’t have an online identity – is this true?

No. These days almost everyone has an online identity, whether they use social networks or not.

In the digital world, there is information that other people, companies or even the Government makes available about each of us which we are often not aware of, including government database information such as UK births, deaths and marriages. In fact, you could say there is ‘background digital noise’ about all of us.

How can digital presence technologies like QDOS help someone track their online identity?

The starting point for tracking your online identity is to realise that you have one and to understand it is valuable and worth tracking. QDOS helps people do this by showing them what their digital status looks like in an engaging way and allowing them to put a measure on it.

We take the view that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and QDOS is a measure of your digital status (how you look in the online world).

How does QDOS stop data abuse?

The key to tackling data abuse is for consumers to make themselves ‘hard targets’ and the purpose of QDOS is to wake people up en masse to the fact that their identity is worth protecting. Once consumers start to recognise this fact in a major way, it will become harder for fraudsters to abuse their data.

Would QDOS help someone who is looking to ‘clean up’ their online breadcrumb trail prior to an important job interview?

QDOS would certainly make someone aware that they had better look at what’s visible about them online before they walk in to the interview. It is all about increasing awareness and waking people up to their digital presence. It’s then up to the individual to take control and decide how they want to represent themselves to others.

Is there a happy balance between allowing friends and prospective employers see you online while not revealing too much data that could lead to identity theft?

Yes, people can strike a happy balance and essentially QDOS is about that other, more positive side of the coin – your digital status (the way in which you appear online).

Identity theft is driven more by very specific items of personal information rather than just from among the general data which is out there.

So you can publish hundreds of photos and chat about your life all day without opening yourself up to risk of identity theft in a major way, but if you leave your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, home address and suchlike items lying around the web then you are potentially putting yourself at risk.

By Marie Boran