Tag Archives: identity theft

Quick, Hit the Kill Switch!

Is This a Good Idea?

The bureaucrats in our country and others are now calling, in their usual shrill fashion, for smartphones and tablets to have a so-called “Kill Switch,” enabled by default, in all new smartphones and tablets. It looks like this will happen by 2015. The idea is that a phone or tablet could be remotely disabled in the event of theft or loss.

The rationale goes something like this: “A large percentage of violent crimes now involve smartphone theft. If the thief knew he couldn’t use or sell the phone because it had been “bricked” (rendered inoperable) by the owner or carrier, he wouldn’t steal the phone.”

Anybody here buy that??

Kill Switch

Given the fact that a lot of thieves are stupid scum, do you really think they would stop stealing phones like magic? Or that the (slightly) smarter ones among them would not find workarounds for the kill switch? Or just sell the parts?

Given the proliferation of recent hack attacks, does anybody think the Kill-Switch system would be immune to outside interference? I don’t.

Imagine waking up one morning to find out that not only was your phone inoperative, making your data inaccessible, but every phone on your carrier, or in your town, was suffering the same fate. Did you have a backup? Yes? Good for you. But what about all those other people that never thought of that? What about police and other authorities that depend on their phones? This could result in something far worse than mere theft.

The proponents of this Big-Brother system think that the carriers are against it because they would lose revenue from selling replacement phones and phone insurance. They won’t, for two reasons: First, people will still lose and break their own phones. Second, a stupid thief, when he finds out the phone is useless, will undoubtedly smash it or otherwise destroy it, and the owner will still need a new phone.

Kill switches can be a good idea, considering the amount of personal data that folks now keep on their phones. But such a thing should always be voluntary, reversible, and only under the control of the owner of the device. There should also be competition among the makers of such programs, so you’re not stuck with whatever the phone manufacturer decides you need, and won’t let you turn off! I want to be in command of my own affairs, and I will always resist this kind of Nanny-State BS.




I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The most important security software you own is your wetware

“So, I’ve loaded up on security software that I’ve paid $xxx for, and now I’ve got a Virus! Why? Isn’t N***n and M***eeĀ  supposed to protect me? What the %#$^&?”

Well, I hate to break this to you, but it might be your own fault. Using security software without using your head is akin to driving like a maniac because you’ve got airbags to protect you, or leaving your front door unlocked because you’ve got a security system to tell you when someone enters. (I love those talking security systems. Why can’t they say something useful, like “Ax Murderer”, or “Mooching Brother-in-Law”, instead of just “Front Door”?)


Brain 1.0

Your first line of defense in any life situation is your wetware, not your software. I’m talking about your brain, which, although it’s 90% water, is the most amazing computer in all of Creation. God gave it to you, and He expects you to use it.

The problem, of course, is we have emotions as well as logic. When we get an email telling us we just won the Nigerian Lottery, sometimes Greed takes over and short-circuits our common sense. A message that seems to be from the FBI plays on Guilt and Fear.

Those Little Gray Cells, as Agatha Christie’s Poirot likes to call them, are your first layer of defense.

  • If you get a popup saying you just won an iPad, you didn’t.
  • If you get an email saying your bank is going to close your account, it won’t. (Unless you have been doing something very bad!)
  • If your computer tells you it’s been locked by the FBI, it hasn’t. (Not by the FBI, anyway. You’ve let in a Bad Guy.)
  • If your identity has been stolen, it may be because you’ve responded to one of the above scams, or any of the other 10 million variations.
  • If something doesn’t look normal, it might not be.
  • Finally, if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t! (True, that is.)

Think before you click. If you’re installing software, ask yourself if you really, really need it, or if it’s just playing on your Greed or Fear. Read things carefully when you are installing stuff. Read the EULA (End User License Agreement), Very carefully. Look for checkboxes that are pre-checked, allowing additional installations you probably don’t need or want. Look for grammar and spelling errors in emails that purport to come from official sources. Take the time to pay attention, just as you do when you’re driving. You might save yourself a lot of pain, frustration, reputation, and maybe even money.