Accidents on the Information Superhighway

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Even if you completely discount the circus that is taking place in Washington D.C., which you should, and just open up your computer to the Internet your are suddenly in a unique swamp all to its self, one replete with low-life creatures that even the creators of fiction in Hollywood would envy.

As Preppers we, like everyone else, deal in information, we depend upon it and should always understand its sources. We are already aware of the American Media and its agenda and hopefully we have learned to apply the proper filters. On the one side we make planning and life decisions based on the information at hand and on the other we keep valuable data in these smart devices. Date that can be used to hurt us financially.

Can we be sure our laptop is secure? Any of our internet capable devices? I know I have received a half-dozen scams through email of late phishing for information. Emails that are mirror images of the actual sites we deal with on a regular basis (JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, E-bay, even Google) looking to “verify” account information and now with required fields for my social security number and drivers license number sprinkled in the mix.

I even got a phone scam last month from someone claiming to be from the IRS and leaving a voicemail that I must call back if I don’t want the matter passed off the next 24 hours to local law enforcement to process. The IRS does NOT call. These scammers are out there and they can be pretty slick.

Am I complicit in this loss of innocence since I have allowed myself to use the “free” email from Yahoo, G-Mail, Hotmail or AOL (ugh)? I am certainly guilty of taking a convenient short-cut to save some money, and can I even be sure that a paid email service is any more secure? Where do you draw the line between reasonable caution and paranoia? A simple way to make that call is where do you put your car keys after you park the vehicle somewhere? Locking it and taking the keys does not assure it won’t be stolen, but it does make it a lesser target than perhaps others. Or do you leave it unlocked, windows rolled down and the keys in the center console? I have a friend I sail with who does just that. Understand that the car is a 1990’s beat to death Ford Taurus, but still it is wheels, something to take for a joyride.

To be honest I had a good laugh this month when there was “breaking news” that Google is working with the Chinese Government to connect all data and search results with a users phone number there, making it easy for their government to know their every keystroke. My laughter was because people will read that and think it isn’t true elsewhere, including here.

So, do you think your computer is protected now? By Norton or McAfee or whatever software. Well, it is safer for sure, but no one can guarantee it 100%.

And what about your laptop (if they are not one in the same)? Smartphone? Are you 100% sure nobody is monitoring your traffic now, reading your emails, running searches for strings of numbers that could be credit card numbers? The Payment Card Industry (PCI) is one of the bright spots in this cyber jungle because they have to be; without them on-line would just be looking at pictures. They bend over backwards to insure, as best they can, the security of your credit card number. It is a race and the hackers are the mechanical rabbits and the cyber-security industry are the greyhounds.

Besides phishing for financial data other scams include:

  • “Your Domain Name is Expiring+ = phishing for login credentials
  • Technical Support Calling – a call claiming to be from Hp or Microsoft that they have detected a problem in your computer and need you to log into their site to address it – capturing your login/password
  • FBI – contacting you over license infringements on files, usually music or videos, that you downloaded
  • …and on and on

The list is endless and runs from clever to “who would fall for that” but people do, daily. I for one am still waiting for my winnings from the “fill in the blank” countries lottery winnings. And one has to be as clueless as our elected representatives to not know about the ransom ware traveling the world wide web.

I even had my Uber account hacked. I began getting confirmation numbers in text messages for scheduled pickups. I tried contacting Uber, an impossible task for anything other than a ride somewhere. Only took a few weeks, like 7 of them, to get Ubers attention.

I find that when I am driving the information superhighway I have to be just as alert and aware and on top of things as when I am driving the roads of America, a threat can come out of nowhere and your reaction time is all you have to recognize it and avoid a costly collision.

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