105 – fear is only rational

No one who listens to safety advice posts on Facebook that they’re going on vacation anymore, because it’s an invitation for someone to come over to your house and steal your stuff. You should wait and post your “nanner, nanner, look where I went” vacation photos after you’re back, according to all the experts. Even then, be wary if your security settings on Facebook say that “friends of friends” can see your information. If they are, and you are posting a picture of some expensive souvenir, you’re basically broadcasting “come and get it” to the evil ones.

Now the cops are also telling people not to put those incredibly twee little stick people on their vehicle back windows, as they give potential thieves too much information about you.  Especially the ones where the stick-husband has a big X through him for the single moms.FAMILY+STICKERS+VIZ

This afternoon, while I’m writing this, I’m in the second hour of an antivirus protection download for my work computer (SLOW connection). While my work system is vulnerable, I’m putting this together on my personal laptop, as it’s protected.  I learned through experience that viruses can be picked up from the most innocuous sites, so until my work system is protected again, I won’t even do any research on it.

I’m also in the process of changing every personal password to a strong one–like most people, I got lazy and used just a few different passwords with small variations for the forty-plus sites that I frequent on a regular basis. Well, that’s over now, I have only a few random ones to finish up, and everything will have a 15-letter, gibberish-laden, randomly capitalized, symbol-containing password that will take military de-encryption to decipher. Hopefully.

And in order to keep that set of passwords safe, I have it in an encrypted file that is not accessible through Dropbox, my cloud storage choice.

All of this but the stick figures are because of this mixed blessing that is the Internet.  Everyone participates at the level where they happen to be comfortable, but if you’re reading this, you’re participating.

But I also know that without FB, my children would actually have to call me–and I’m not sure they know how anymore. There is never a day goes by that I’m not messaging one or the other, or both.

Facebook has tremendous vulnerabilities, according to this article:

Facebook regularly updates its timeline and privacy settings, so it is wise to monitor your profile. Firstly, in the privacy settings menu, under “who can see my stuff?” change this to “friends” (be warned: setting this to “friends of friends” means that, according to one Pew study, on average you are sharing information with 156,569 people). Also in privacy, setting “limit old posts” applies friends-only sharing to past as well as future posts. Disable the ability of other search engines to link to your timeline. Review the activity log, which shows your entire history of posts and allows you to check who can see them. Also, remove your home address, phone number, date of birth and other information that could be used to fake your identity. Similarly you might want to delete or edit your “likes” and “groups” — the more hackers know about you, the more convincing a phishing email they can spam you with. Facebook apps often share your data, so delete any you don’t use or don’t remember installing. Finally, use the “view as” tool to check what the public or even a particular individual can see on your profile, continue to “edit” and adjust to taste.

On the non-virtual side of things, I live in one of the safest places imaginable, or at least safe from the human sort of threat. Even as the only female within 900-1000 square miles, I feel vastly less vulnerable here on the ranch than I ever have within a city. The cowboys nod, wave and smile and stay ten feet away from me at all times… the patriarchal culture I’m living in dictates that you do NOT talk to another man’s woman unless he is standing right beside her.

But I live my work life and much of my personal life online… and there, we are never safe from the fear that someone is watching, and that they do not have our best interests in mind. That applies whether you’re paranoid about the government or the rest of the tacky SOBs that are out to take things that aren’t theirs.

Do I have a solution? No, it’s like the common cold, you just treat the symptoms, as the underlying disease has no cure. Once biometric recognition is a fully mature capability (retinal, fingerprint, voice scans, etc.) then the hackers will figure out some way to get around it–and in many cases already have.

We will always have to protect ourselves from those who believe they are entitled to our stuff.


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