Skip to main content

Beards are Back

Beards are back. A nostalgic IT industry fashion statement, which I’m certain will find favour beyond the present generation of Linux programmers and may even present an opportunity, along with the baseball cap and the ‘hoodie’, of concealing one’s identity from the expanding and intrusive surveillance society in which we live.

Following in the wake of Vogue magazine and the introduction of the stylish ‘Information Taleban’ look, there are signs emerging that spreading every minor detail about one’s personal life across the internet may be on the wane, as a lifestyle choice, at least among the over twenty-fives.

With identity theft now rife and steadily rising, keeping one’s online personal information to an absolute minimum is starting to look increasingly attractive. While large businesses use services to monitor corporate reputation, a niche may now exist for a similar model, able to measure both personal reputation and exposure to the internet; capable of linking into one’s credit rating as well.

We heard, at last month’s ecrime congress, how criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in targeting individuals in the lucrative game of identity theft and this can call upon directed ‘phishing’ attacks and the simple expedient of either ransacking rubbish bags and/or using Google to look for useful information that might exist on social networking sites and generally sprayed across the internet. As a result, identity theft has become astonishingly easy, in terms of criminal effort and recently, I met an individual who had experienced the unfortunate consequences.

According to the Direct.Gov website, “Identity theft affects more than 100,000 people every year” and best victim, is invariably the average person because he or she is less likely to be aware it has happened or indeed take swift action to deal with the problem until its far too late.

The individual I spoke with, was an electrician whose life had been shattered by an experience which involved a criminal cloning his identity to commit a number of crimes, which involved fraud. The first he knew of it was a summons to court in Birmingham, - he lived in London - and then a tortuously unsympathetic process which involved trying to prove that he had not committed a series of criminal offenses in the Midlands. If you have ever attempted to report an internet-related crime at your local police station, then you’ll wonder at how the civilian assistant – it’s unlikely you’ll see a police officer - may react to your standing behind a reinforced window and claiming that you are not actually the serial offender who shares the criminal record in your name.

The bebo obessed young are naturally profligate with their personal information because at 16 or less, one has little or nothing of real worth to risk in the broader world that exists outside a small group of friends but age and even a page on Facebook, may attract a growing risk to both one’s reputational and financial assets and more and more of us are placing these in danger on the internet; like low hanging fruit for an army of fraudsters.

What we need, other than the exercise of common sense, is to adopt a more universal view of the dangers of unrestricted personal information flow than simply have Government warn us all to use paper shredders and regularly check our credit ratings. Perhaps its time to encourage each of us to consider having a personal information policy that restricts, as much as possible what we reveal about our lives on the Web and re-introducing anonymity, like the beard, as a fashionable virtue with fringe benefits in the information age?

Popular posts from this blog

Median Saleh

I mentioned in the last post, the 1981 expedition that took in Median Saleh, the ruined Nabatean city in Saudi Arabia

A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

By coincidence, one of the most important train stations on the Hejaz railway sat next to the ruins and when Lawrence of Arabia blew the line in 1917, the trains were trapped there and are still there today, gathering dust and with "Krupp" on the engine casings.

One of the trains, sitting where T.E. Lawrence left themwith Dr Paul Garnett as the passenger

Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.

More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.

I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

A Matter of Drones - Simon Moores for The Guardian

I have a drone on my airfield” – a statement that welcomes passengers to the latest dimension in air-travel disruption. Words of despair from the chief operating officer of Gatwick airport in the busiest travel week of the year. Elsewhere, many thousands of stranded and inconvenienced passengers turned in frustration to social media in an expression of crowd-sourced outrage.

How could this happen? Why is it still happening over 12 hours after Gatwick’s runways were closed to aircraft, why is an intruder drone – or even two of them – suspended in the bright blue sky above the airport, apparently visible to security staff and police who remain quite unable to locate its source of radio control?

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, overtaken by both the technology and events, is reduced to sending out desperate tweets warning that an airport incursion is a criminal offence and that drone users should follow their new code of conduct. Yet this is not an unforeseen event. It was i…