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The Importance of Paranoia

Yesterday, I exhibited some of the traits of the paranoid.  But, when they are out to getcha, that isn’t really paranoia. With the selling of the cloud concept, that will make the problem exponentially worse.  At one time I was a computer guru.  I’d guess top 5%.  That wasn’t hard to get to.  Moving higher was.  Since then I slipped and slipped and top third might be overly generous.   But, I can try to help those well below that.

One e-friend is outspoken about work and person.  Generous comment would be an honest soul.  You can’t be honest on the internet.  Another friend just as bright saw it in their workplace and ended up going private with their blog and doing away with their seemingly innocuous social media presence.  Neither really saw the risk and one got bitten and the other is vulnerable.   That is one side and personal.  There is another side that is more avoidable and that’s what I’d like to discuss today.

If you are on the internet you have an IP address.   It is issued by the ISP to connect you to the internet.  It is like your phone number.  If you leave the cable or whatever attached, it will stay the same.  Even if you don’t the info will be close the next time.  You can see it show about where you live by clicking on this.  You can’t avoid this and have to live with it.  Marketers love knowing it and can direct ads at you based on local.

This is the Firefox addon that I’m going to cover in more detail.  It automates a lot of personal protection.  I just use the free services they offer.

We register on sites all the time.   It wants our name, address, phone and so on.  That can be controlled by those with limited computer skills and a bit of healthy paranoia.  You need to use Firefox as your browser.  There is one stop shopping for an add-on that will make it stupid-easy to add protection.    If you use it, you can confuse the trackers that try to follow every aspect of you life.   It doesn’t solve everything but protects a lot.

Your credit card is a nasty thing.  Your real name is there and there is a number that doesn’t change.  Things that are constants are what trackers use to keep you in their sites and consolidate what they know about you in a single file.  Many cards allow you to generate temporary or different card info.  I have an application on my desk that lets me do so with my Discover card.   I don’t need it at Amazon or the known, legit sites.  But, I occasionally shop others on a one time basis or where someone wants a credit card that it will auto renew some service that I’d prefer to control instead of them.  You want this capability.

Names are hard to avoid. That especially true as it relates to a credit card.  If you don’t have to use the card, you don’t have to make it easy.  As far as I know, I can use a pseudonym without legal ramifications.  At least that was true as long as I wasn’t preforming an illegal act before The Patriot Act and its ilk.   I tend to use variations on my real name.   Many of you have seen my KenP comments which is a bit of that.  I use JKenP and a host of other to obscure things.  If you clicked on the above link, it will even set up a way to recall which you’ve used – where.  Only use your given name where you don’t have a choice.   I’m Ken Prevo, James Prevo, Jim Prevo, etc on sites where I do have to give credit card info.  It isn’t bullet proof but it does add some confusion.

Your address is unchanging and often needed.  If you have a single family residence, you are home free.  You turn it into a high rise apartment building.  1234 Main St. Apartment 101   1234 Main Street Suite B   This won’t confuse the mailman but it will confuse the trackers.

That link above will generate names and password for common sites and let you enter others for it to remember for you.  That a danger so you probably want to avoid bank, mortgage, financial relationships.   Your data is encrypted there and covered by the password you use which works for the common stuff.    But, we are talking paranoid here.

Real password are a problem.  People often come up with really stupid (crackable) ones like their birthday.   Number are good to included in password.  Words listed in a dictionary are very bad choices.  There are number you hold in memory that aren’t easily known.  A street address from childhood, the phone number of your best friend in grade school and so on remain available and cryptic. Select a half dozen really secure combinations and rotate them.  It isn’t as perfect as a randomly generated password but it probably will both keep the wolf from the door and let you log into those important sites where you need such protection without having to have to jump through hoops to get access after you forgot the PW.

Email addresses become exponential with the tool above.  The one I’ve used for years is another that has kept a lot of spam out of my inbox.  It has a nice feature of letting you disable spam after a certain number received and also allowing through the ones you want to allow to continue after said trial period.  And, it lets you go to the site and respond using one of the addresses used.  Your real email address should be on gmail, ymail, live or such.  These are online address that you can access over time from anywhere.  You should have several with varying security.  Family and friends is the top-level here.  Business relationships come next and so on.  I have five “real” email accounts including the one for here.   Don’t use the ones the ISP provides except as possible throw away ones.  If you move or change ISP, they go away and that can be a real annoyance not related to security.

All of the above is pretty easy to use by the least tech savvy among us.  It isn’t foolproof but it is confusion to the enemy.   Most certainly most can’t be worse off than what they have done — lacking concerns they weren’t aware they should be concerned about.

ADDENDUM:

Friend Waffles is one of the 5%ers that I used to be and is far more net savvy than I am these days.  If we harass him a bit he might do a post that expands and improves of what I’m providing.   Pester him!

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  1. January 12th, 2012 at 23:40 | #1

    It’s a jungle out there.

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