A new decade, a new way to steal information

21 Jan 2011 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

The immense world of technology has grown unimaginably over the past three decades; for example, 31 years ago, Bill Gates was hired by IBM, the computer manufacturing company, to create an operating system for a new personal computer. Today, Gates is the second wealthiest man in the world with a net worth of $54 billion due to his following computer success.

Although Gates can sleep well knowing he is the second richest man on earth, there is something just as serious that may keep others up for countless hours: their identity, yet more specifically, having it stolen. And what is one of the major facets for someone having their personal information stolen? The very thing Gates helped create.

Internet security is a serious matter that those who use the internet must always be conscious of, which is 77.4 percent of the North American population, as recorded by the World Internet Statistics website. A seriousness that the information technicians of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune do not take lightly.

“Once any piece of information is on the internet, it’s nearly impossible to get off,” said Sean Gilligan, information technician with the base. “Almost everyone with an internet connection has such online networking tools such as a Facebook profile, but sometimes people aren’t as careful with their information as they should be.”

In this day and age, networking with hometown friends and co-workers online is nearly as common as breathing for the younger generations, exponentially making the ease of access of personal information rise. Place of residence, birthday, contact information, family members; all this information is becoming more and more readily available for exploitation. This instance doubly applies to service members and their families; whereas they may not be on base or in uniform, there is no change in how they should conduct themselves on the “faceless” internet.

“On occasion, we are able to put together various pieces of information that can reveal a deployed units’ grid coordinates - all from the spouses’ Facebook pages,” said Gilligan. “There are other times when a traffic accident takes place on base, and before (the Provost Marshal’s Office) responds all of its details are on (”

Internet security is a two-sided coin: one must not only know what they can and cannot release to the world’s eye, but also how they can protect themselves from being taken advantage of. A shred of info here, an overly-open post there, all puzzle pieces that can be constructed into information and could put peoples’ lives at risk.

“A recent test of internet security aboard the base showed that 98 percent of wireless internet passwords were generic and easy to break,” said Gilligan. “The key to better protecting yourself online is to fully understand the security settings of whatever website you utilize as well as being wary of what information you should share. It’s better to make your security too restrictive than to have your information stolen.”

As an example of how easy it is to acquire one’s personal information online, there are websites where, for a fee of just a few dollars a month, someone can legally get anyone’s current residence, contact information, family members, age, interests and even phone records. All the website does is scan various blogging pages for one’s name and compiles them into a single character profile; all from voluntary information.

“Between Facebook and Lejeune Yard Sales, more information is getting out quicker than ever,” said Gilligan. “All it takes is a little education in what to put up online and how to protect it. That’s what (the information technicians) are here for.”

For more information on how to protect your information online or tips on how to bolster internet security, contact the information technicians at 451-1019.