Thursday, March 3, 2011

Security Training

I spent the last six days, including the weekend, attending (computer/information system) security training for work. It was really interesting, but made for long days.

It also made me kind of paranoid. Not that I wasn't already a little bit. But maybe that was also a product of the instructor, who made it openly known that he is a paranoid kind of person when it comes to security. A couple examples he told that made me be all like, scary much?:

  • A site called that used to compile public information about your house (where it was, how much it was worth) if you ever said you were going to be out of town on a social networking or other public site. They don't appear to do it anymore, but this Huffington Post article talks about it: Please Rob Me: Site Tells The World When You're Not Home. I was already wary of ever saying online when we were going to be out of town, but this just solidified it even more.

  • The teacher told us about how, as a graduate student, he would teach courses and give his students an assignment where all he would tell them was his full name, and their task was to spend no more than $20 and find out as much information about him as they could, to illustrate just how much public information is available out there and why people should be careful with what they share. He said he stopped giving that assignment because it was freaky, but some students were able to get a lot of information, such as where he was born, where his wife was born, his children's names, where his children were born, where his parents were born, and even his parents' prom picture. Parents' prom picture! I can understand more if we're talking a prom picture from the last 10 or 15 or even 20 years or so because those do make it onto Facebook and such. But my guess is that this guy's parents are pretty old since he himself was in his mid-forties. He also added that he stopped grading that particular assignment at home because his wife would see how much information his students found out about him and his family and she was not a fan. Heh.

Sometimes I google myself to see what's out there . . . but it's still creepy because although I can control what I put online, I can't control what other people put online (public records, schools, professional associations, etc.) that seem innocuous, but all together, makes for a lot of information that I don't have control over.

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