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Secure your stuff | Just Reflections - Issue #36
I’m extra tired today from all the travelling and then spending the day trying to remember what I do for a living. So I’ll keep it short and to the point.
Morning edit: I wake up and get online to check if Will Smith won an Oscar for King Richard and I’m greeted by him giving hands to Chris Rock. There can be 100 people in a room and you make jokes about all of them. 99 won’t slap you but 1 Will. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. Standup comedy is clearly not my thing.
Seriously though. It was unprofessional of Will to do that. Stand-up comedians make jokes about many things and many people all the time. If everyone will stand up and slap them, then there won’t be a show at all. He was making jokes about everyone.
Anyway, let’s get today’s newsletter.
One of my favourite podcasts is Darknet Diaries. The by-line for the show says,
“True stories from the dark side of the Internet. This is a podcast about hackers, breaches, shadow government activity, hacktivism, cybercrime, and all the things that dwell on the hidden parts of the network. This is Darknet Diaries.”
It’s an investigative podcast hosted by Jack Rhysider and in each episode, he explores a true story about hacking and malicious activity on the web. Often he’ll be interviewing the very perpetrators of the crimes and they have time to tell the story from their perspective. On top of the great content, the show is really well produced. It has splendid music at just the right places, perfectly scripted intros. You should really check it out.
Anyway, I listened to a recent episode about a crime that happened recently.
The guest (who is also the person who’s going to prison) gained access to the network of a former employer who treated him unfairly. Long story short. He guessed the admin password, and one day when he was feeling bored he hacked into the school system out of curiosity initially but on realising that someone will notice his IP address, he wiped everything on all the computers connected to the network, including remote wiping the mobile devices of over 2000 people. Listen to the podcast for the full story.
All of it happened because the school has an insecure password.
I’m willing to wager that lots of people reading this don’t have secure passwords across their services. This is not a dig at the readers of the newsletter, it’s just the nature of humans. By insecure passwords, I mean.
reusing the same password across multiple services
using weak passwords like your birthday or the name of your child or your favourite milkshake flavour
using a password that you once shared with a friend, an ex-lover, a sibling, etc.
In addition, many people have lots of personally-identifying information about them on social media.
Imagine waking up one day with the police knocking at your door because someone using your name and phone number committed a crime while pretending to be you. Or waking up to find that someone who had access to your email changed all your passwords on all your devices.
These are just a few easy ways that someone with malicious intent can use to your detriment. I’ve listened to enough episodes of Darknet diaries to have a healthy dose of paranoia about this stuff.
So what should you do? Here’s a small list of things you can do right now to secure yourself when on the internet:
1. Don’t share your private information online on social media, etc. Stuff like your phone number, address and other personally-identifying information. People can use it maliciously.
2. When you share pictures and videos, be careful that they don’t contain your vehicle registration, address, phone numbers, etc. Just blur that stuff or something.
3. When you break up with someone who knew your passwords or could guess them, change your passwords!
4. If you’re a business owner, change your passwords when employees leave.
5. DON’T REUSE PASSWORDS, DON’T USE YOUR NAME OR YOUR CHILD’S NAME OR YOUR HUSBAND’S BIRTHDAY OR ANY OTHER INFO THAT COULD BE GUESSED. IF YOU CAN, GET YOURSELF A PASSWORD MANAGER THAT WILL CREATE RANDOM SECURE PASSWORDS FOR YOU.
I know a common argument is, “I’m not that important. Why would someone want to hack me?”. Well, I have two things to say about that. One, yes, you probably aren’t that important. Two, your data doesn’t need to be hiding the country’s nuclear codes for it to be useful to a malicious actor.
Sure, maybe you’re not important enough for your data to change the world, but someone who wants to cause you harm can:
Commit a crime with your data
Remotely wipe your devices
Pretend to be you and defraud your loved ones
I’ve heard of stories (again from that podcast) where people use other people’s addresses or phone numbers or credit cards, etc. to commit crimes. You may not be that important in your own estimate, but if you’re not careful, someone who goes by your name, using your address and phone number might be selling drugs in some neighbourhood.
Stay say out there forks.
That’s all I have for you this week. If you like the newsletter, consider sharing it with others on Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook. Hit the thumbs up or thumbs down below to let me know what you think.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about this week and I wish you ever-increasing curiosity.
Until next week.
Weight: Get to 75kg by April 28 and 70kg by July
Now that I’m back to reality, I was a little anxious to get on the scale to see what my carefree over-indulgence got me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only gained about 1kg. If the trend is anything to go by, that sets me back about a week. I honestly expected it to be worse, but time to get back on track. Feels like my 75kg on the 28th of April target is under threat now, but let’s see how things go.
Impactful ideas that challenged my thinking.
I have a lot of interests so I'm always learning all kinds of things, some of which really challenge my thinking. In the Just Reflections newsletter, I'll be sharing with you a summary of the ideas that challenged my thinking recently and hopefully they will challenge yours too and we grow together.
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