Friday, September 26, 2008

Identitiy Theft and Blogging

I just learned some scary information about how easy it is to hack into someone's email or other online accounts. As bloggers (or Facebookers, College Alumni) etc we put a lot of information out into the ether that someone malicious could use against us or our family.

In a Scientific American article How I Stole Someone's Identity, author Herbert H. Thompson writes about just how easy it was to gain access to accounts just by knowing a few items about someone such as their name, hobby, and where they work. EEK. Getting an email address can provide even more info.

You can listen to the author on the Talk of the Nation radio show on September 23rd. Here's a link to get to the show's blog, look for the post entitled It's a Hacker's World Out There. The audio is available there (and on iTunes). Listen to the show and read what they have to say.

For instance, lots of online security measures ask for things like Mother's Maiden Name, Name of First Pet.

I've seen lots of that in people's blogs, along with exact birthdates and places. And even more information than that. And I've seen that information about people's children.

There are some good preventative tips in the article and I loved the suggestion that one caller made: never give out your mother's REAL maiden name as the answer to a security question. Use a made up word from your childhood that is easy to remember but has never ever been on the web. Like Schnorgleplatz or something. Lie on those questions, just make sure you know what the answer is.

Talk about these things with your kids - they need to know too.

14 comments:

Lynda said...

What a complicated world we live in! Thanks for raising that, Tonya. It goes against quilters' natures to be devious, but I imagine we'll have to bite the bullet and be more secretive!

comicbooklady said...

I always worry about those personality tests, you know the ones, what colour are you, what flower are you, to me they seem like fishing. There was one that I thought was especially bold, it was the one that makes up names out of your pets names, teachers names,maiden names etc, combines the first few letters of one and the last of another to make up a Star wars character or something like that, it's funny but you give out all sorts of personal info that a lot of people might use for pin numbers and logins... anyway, I never trust those.

Stephanie D. said...

Wow! That was an eye-opener! My daughter won't let me post her photos or much info about her, but she has a MySpace as well as a Facebook account, and her email signature has her job contact information on it.

Thanks for posting this!

Gypsy Quilter said...

Thank you for this update Tonya. Really appreciate the reminder.

Cher said...

sad but true information Tonya-good to share this on your blog. everyone needs to keep in mind, it could happen to them-those sorts of things you hear about or read or see on tv-yes, it could be you that is the victim. the cost of being careless or too trusting could be very high in some cases.

belinda said...

i heard this very discussion and advice a couple of weeks ago....i immediatly went and changed my blog profile..took off my age...my astro sign etc. i have always been leery and never put my real year of birth....my brother told me a local bank employee told him that when they go to schools to update their skills and learn new banking programs she was taught how to get into someones email...all you needed was the email address...( i am going to talk to MY banker about this )..soooo i don't send ANYTHING in an email i wouldn't want plastered all over the world. so far we don't do ANY banking or business on line...places we do business with want us to, but we have not given in yet.....thanks for posting about this....i started to do a post about it when my brother told me what he did.....

oh...and thanks for the post about posting pictures and such without getting permission....it never entered my mind...you may have saved me alot of grief later!!

Just call me V said...

I've up dated everything... no names, dates or anything to exact.
this is so very important, thanks for sharing...
(Just call me V)

Katie said...

I heard this program too. Just makes us want to crawl into a hole and just stay there. But that's no way to live. I recently got a general e-mail from my investment company telling people not to send information via e-mail to them. They will no longer process any e-mail requests. I've heard that we should change our password often but that sure is a hang up too.

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

But my last name IS Schnorgleplatz!

Ok I'm kidding, it's not. Very good suggestions, I'm off to read the article :-)

Fran said...

Thanks for the "heads up" Tonya. My DH is always going on about identy theft, and what I should or shouldn't do on this computer.

Giving false information is a good idea. I will have to go check out my profile "About Me" on my blog and maybe make a few changes. Maybe I should describe myself as a 28 yr old ex-stripper, instead of a 63 yr old grandmother with a sudden yen to start quilting? (*LOL*) (No offense meant to all those who do strip, eh ya gotta do what ya gotta do)
All kidding aside I will go and have a peek at just how much info that I've included in my blog.

Thanks again Tonya

~~~Fran...:c)

Beth said...

That is scary. I generally don't put all that info on my blog, but just recently I had my debit card number used twice for large purchases, even after getting a new number, and my Discover number used and my husband got his credit card used for rail tickets in Spain. Who knows where they got our info.

bethluvs2quilt said...

When I developed my blog my husband was like - you need to put your info out there so people get to know you - but I worried about this. So now we need to rethink all this. Thank you so much for addressing something I had already been thinking about!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the heads-up on this, Tonya. Too many of us are too trusting. We were a victim of on-line fraud a few years ago, and the bank's fraud dept. told us we should change our accounts, PINs, passwords, etc. etc. every 2 or 3 years to help prevent stolen ID or fraud. Scary stuff out there!
And thanks for the info on putting pix of other's quilts/work on our blog. Good to know. Thank you!

Bonnie said...

Schnorgleplatz!!!!!!! How did you know??? *LOL*

No really, don't try reading this word when you are sipping diet dp...it wants to go right up your nose :cD