Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making a Target of Yourself

The recent involvement of three Americans and one Brit in subduing an armed terrorist on a French train has prompted certain warnings on the Internet about the availability of Internet information.  Armed with a name, job and perhaps a photo, terrorist could, it is suggested, seek you and your family out for retribution.  The advice is aimed at both military and police, but it doesn’t take much to extrapolate to include EMTs, Civil Service, city employees, Fire Department and teachers.  Just to start the list.  The people who are the gears that make the machinery of society work are also targets.

The advice, of course is to not have an internet profile.  In today’s world this is a difficult goal to achieve.  I worked with one man who confided he had a facebook page only to see pictures that a frat brother post’s of his children.  For many of us working stiffs Linked-In and Monster are employment safety nets.  Even without them the information you are forced to release to websites you subscribe to or purchase from is often sold and ends up as part of a searchable data base you can access for pennies.

Still, what harm?

I Googled a co-worker using only their name and place of employment.  I ignored any website that required I pay for information.  Knowing where they worked told me what state and city.  I had to work through similar names with various middle initials but I soon found a rhythm to it.   I found pointers to street addresses, partial phone numbers, identity of spouse, ages and a picture of themselves that they posted.

Ack!  It was creepy and made me feel dirty, all in 7 minutes.  But to a terrorist it could be a gold mine.

I don’t know what to say.  I’m certainly not an identity security expert.  I went online and found a lot about identity theft related problems and responses, but nothing about preventing someone from finding you, your spouse or your address.

I suggest you never post a picture of yourself on line or allow your children to do the same.  I would suggest using the same ploy Paxton Quigley recommends in “Armed and Female.”  Get a mail box from Fed-Ex or another company that looks like an address.  Employers want to know where you live?  Credit card companies?  On-line orders?  Give ‘em that address.

Keep your personal life off the internet, especially if your job makes you a target.  You still might need to have a Internet presence, but think very hard about what you say and release.  I’m never going to use the same middle initial and thank God I never used my wife’s name or the name(s) of my children, assuming I have any.

So what am I doing blogging?

Even before this I gave some thought and decided I was a low risk if I was careful.  No names, no good pictures, mislead when possible about my personal specifics.  Plus, nobody is really interested in a dog catcher working for…

Thought you had me there for a minute, didn’t you.

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