Info & Tech Literacy Series: Security & Privacy Basics – links

Yes, you know how to use the computer.

Your three year old is showing you how to use the iPad.
You successfully create presentation slides for seminars you give and your tween has a webpage she designed for a class.
Your wife set up and secured your wifi network.. and unplugged the blinking VCR since you now have a NetFlix account as well as a TiVo.

Why do you need to check in on Literacy?

There is a gap in knowledge. My clients very often teach me specific new features of the software they use every day. What they show me often makes my life much easier.

But they still get duped by the phishing email.
They still have the same three passwords they first generated back in 1997.

They wonder what’s the best way to fill in their LinkedIn profile. I’ve seen some list their home phone number just because there is a box for it. What information do they need? What can be left out? What if they’re not comfortable filling it out truthfully?

Why should you care?

Identity Theft. It’s a royal pain in the butt to fix everything and git it all back right. I don’t think you should be paranoid and not use any of these services, because your information is being shared to a degree anyway. That doesn’t mean it’s good to put every last detail online either.

There are tons of resources out there to help you.

The State of Ohio published an extensive list of links listing resources to help you learn about Privacy Basics, Identity Theft, Safe E-mail and Web Browsing Habits.

Wait, how do I know this? Why did I include the two links above?

They are Government websites and I am putting a degree of trust in the Government to provide educational resources that do not mislead its citizens.

How do I know these are from the government? Below is what my Google search results screen looked like.

Screen shot of Google Search results for Privacy

What do you see?

  1. The first line is the title of the page. This might have a meaningful name, or it might not. This is generated from the code* of the page. The two icons are specific to google and we can ignore them for now.
  2. The next line is part of the content, the meat, of the web page. Think of it as a sort of preview. Is it useful? Sometimes. This is where all that talk on SEO optimization comes in.
  3. The last line is what I want you to focus on. This is the URL of the page. Will it always lead you to the most trustworthy site? No, but understanding some basics of this will help you begin to make some decisions.

Did I loose you on that Wikipedia page? I thought so.

Here’s what to keep in mind, then I’m going to throw you a hard curveball**:

Your mailing address is similar to a hostname. For example, let’s pretend my business address is 123 Main Street. That’s not easy to remember, so I tell you that PennyWise Consulting LLC is at 123 Main Street.

I’m a business so I have a .com.

URLs for my business start with https://www.pennywiseconsulting.com

If I was a government agency I’d probably be a .gov

Schools can have .edu

However, beyond schools and the government, there really isn’t anyone checking if a .org is really a non-profit or a .com is a real business. If you pay the fees to buy this easier to remember name, it’s yours. (note: this is highly highly simplified)

However, the second, (here’s your curve ball) the Agency that decides what the last bit of the hostname, the dot com, dot org, etc are has declared that there will be more options and that almost anything goes.

What does that mean to you as a user of various websites? How will you protect yourself form phishing? I’m not sure I have the answers.

* it’s not technically code, it’s scripting. I will explain the difference in the future if there is enough interest.

** I run. I cannot throw balls nor hit them with any degree of skill or accuracy.