Fear & Loading: Privacy, Theft and Making Yourself a Hard Target

posted on March 9, 2017

You have the firearms and training to minimize the chances of you and your loved ones becoming a victim of violent crime, but today’s Internet-connected society makes it easier than ever for perpetrators to probe for and exploit otherwise unseen creases in your defense. Even those photos and updates you post on social media can work against you.

The CIA wiretapping conversations through my TV is scary, but it’s the least of my worries. It is, however, an ugly reminder that we’re often doing the homework for criminals and Big Brother with every social media post, maybe even text we send.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve known everyone on your friends list since they were sticking bubble gum in your kindergarten hair. Of course, there are those people who pose as acquaintances you inadvertently friend or strangers who didn’t even know you existed until someone they “friended” comments on your post.

Then you let them know when and where you’re out to dinner with your spouse, touting the virtues of that rare wine. Nice time to hit the house. Vacation pix mean they don’t need to work as fast—if you want to call it work. Add those sickos phishing around and right clicking to save cute toddler pix, teen prom photos, spouses, home towns, and my skin crawls. Then there’s the convenience of cell phone photos that invite trouble by embedding GPS information.

Consider this, too. When was the last time you read about someone being accused of a crime that the news report didn’t include juicy tidbits from the innocent-until-proven-guilty person’s social media accounts? That’s today’s version of investigative journalism, pizza in support hand and mouse in the other while they scour the Internet until they find that day in 2007 you were angry enough to curse after your dog died, wife left you and the pickup ran out of gas on the way to the unemployment line. If you’re reading this and were born after Al Gore invented the Internet, you have my pity.

Not long ago I thought Google’s Alexa was one of the best home-defense supplements to come out of this cyber age. I’m not having second thoughts, although in two months of use I’ve seen some drawbacks. She remembers the light you’re asking to turn on 99 percent of the time. Good, but when the unthinkable happens … . Firmware updates so far are like finding a unicorn. I looked immediately after I walked into the bedroom and she was holding a conversation, alone. Seriously, talking to herself, or a CIA operative nearby, in a trench coat, no doubt. The dialogue could be ongoing because there’ve been no firmware updates since my purchase.

Everyone once in a while you get inexpensive lessons in the Internet’s ability to invade. This week it’s the CIA and code now available to hackers, worldwide. I got one two weeks ago, when a friend informed me of photos and the accompanying story I wrote for ShootingIllustrated.com was lifted by another website, byline removed and full credit taken by the staff there. As you know, writing like this has an annoying and distinctive fingerprint. This morning another website posted one of my photos, without permission, payment, thank you, kiss or even a cigarette afterward. Thankfully it wasn’t of my wife, grandkids, daughters or dog.

I’ve yet to hear back from the web masterminds, web hosts, Google or Ouija Board. I’ll let you know if I do, but in the meantime, I’ve gotta run the dog to the vet, put gas in the truck and attend a counseling session with the wife.  



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