Safer Internet: What Do You Have to Hide?


  • dogEveryone is at risk:
  • Anyone who has ever had a loan or credit card -- very likely affected by 9/2017 Equifax breach
  • Anyone whose SSN, email or other sensitive details have been -- or will be -- hacked by a careless company or incompetent government agency
  • Anyone unaware of good security and privacy practices -- encourage them to take this class!
  • [3] Any high-profile target: celebrity, politician, business, investigative journalist, political dissident, whistleblower



  • circus guessContact information: home address, phone, email -- yours and family
  • Vital Statistics: your birthday, birthplace, family members
  • [Refs]: "How Many Times Has Your Personal Information Been Exposed to Hackers?" [quiz]
  • [Refs:Identity]: "Here's what your stolen identity goes for on the internet's black market"
  • [Refs:Identity]: "Five Common Scams Directed at Seniors"
  • Financial information: SSN, credit cards, purchases, tax returns, bank statements
  • Your current and past locations
  • [Refs:Vehicles]: "Chevy Malibu 'Teen Driver' Tech Will Snitch if You Speed"
  • fantasy lots of infoPhotos
  • [Refs]: "California becomes first state to convict someone for operating a revenge porn website"
  • Medical information
  • [Refs:Health]: "29 million US health records exposed by data breaches between 2010 and 2013"
  • [Refs:Health]: " DNA Privacy Statement: advertising relevant to genotype"
  • Password(s): if a password is stolen, login to that site and change it, before a hacker does -- hopefully, you have devious security question answers and/or 2-factor authentication for any sensitive accounts.
  • However, if you re-used that password for other sites -- a big no-no -- you'll have to scramble...
  • Email, chat, and other communication history
  • Browsing behavior -- current and historical {List. TCYOP-3: 73-74; TCYOP-2: 58-60; TCYOP-1: 58-60}; browser 'footprint'
  • closed captioning google glassPersonally-identifiable vs. anonymously-aggregated information; content vs. metadata
  • Data across different sites via cookies or IP address (or 'browser fingerprint') can reveal patterns, and lead to individuals
  • [Refs]: "Why You Should Protect Even Your Most Unimportant Data"
  • Other devices: voting systems, (smart)TV, set-top/streaming box, game console, smart watch, health/fitness trackers, home automation, car; section: "Internet of Things" (IoT)
  • Others' devices: cameras, wearable technology

Identity Theft

  • If you have ever had a loan, mortgage or credit card, you are very likely affected by the recent (9/2017) Equifax breach -- with at least your birthdate, name, address, SSN available to hackers worldwide
  • Or, you may be vulnerable due to other past -- or future -- leaks from other companies or government agencies with sloppy security.
  • blankieHowever, there are still some things you can do to minimize the damage -- many of them free (with some redundancy)
  • Closely monitor credit card activity for unrecognized charges with your credit card companies -- at least monthly, but preferably more often.
  • Set up SMS and/or email notifications with your credit card company for charges over certain amounts or from certain sources, esp. online, international.
  • Setup credit card monitoring & fraud alerts, check your credit report & score, e.g.,
  • Freeze credit reports with all 3 credit reporting agencies -- to prevent future applications for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards with your SSN
  • Stay tuned -- due to public or legal pressure, more free services may become available, for longer periods
  • Enroll in Equifax Trusted ID Premier: free for a year; FAQ; I was initially concerned about Equifax's lax security, fumbling tone-deaf response, and executive irregularities (dumping stock after breach; music degree credentials for CSO (Chief Security Officer), who's resigned, along with CEO); however, they seem to have addressed some of these concerns via their complimentary service (hopefully they'll willingly (or be forced to) extend), which includes:
  • 3-Bureau Credit File Monitoring and automated alerts of key changes to your Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit files
  • Equifax Credit Report Lock: allows you to prevent access to your Equifax credit report by third parties, with certain exceptions -- 'lock' similar to a 'freeze', though with fewer regulations; stay tuned for clarification
  • Social Security Number Scanning of suspicious web sites
  • Copy of your Equifax Credit Report
  • Up to $1 million in ID theft insurance. Helps pay for certain out-of-pocket expenses in the event you are a victim of identity theft
  • Enroll in TransUnion TrueIdentity: free, which includes:
  • Freeze TransUnion credit report
  • Stay up to date with monitoring, alerts and credit reports
  • Up to $25,000 in ID theft insurance
  • freeze Experian credit report: free or $10 (depends on state); be sure to generate & save PIN; additional costs to unfreeze or remove?
  • other various Experian services/plans most not free; IdentityWorks Plus & Premiums plans are, I think, overpriced and unnecessary -- you can get much of the same for free elsewhere, e.g., other credit agencies,, ProtectID (AAA members)
  • freeze Innovis credit report: free; lesser known than the 'big 3' credit agencies, but since it's free, why not?
  • [Refs:Equifax]: "Stephen Colbert: Equifax Just Equi-F'ed Everyone" (video)
  • [Refs:Identity]: "LifeLock Agrees to Pay $100 Million Fine in Settlement With F.T.C."
  • [Refs:Identity]: "Which Credit Monitoring Service Should You Use?"
  • [Refs:Identity]: "4 Things You Should Do About the Equifax Hack"
  • File your income taxes as early as possible -- so that a hacker doesn't file for you and claim a refund
  • [Refs:Identity]: "Sign Up at Before Crooks Do It For You"







Identity Theft