Keeping an Eye on Your Online Identity

I was using Google’s image search this weekend. I had known about it for some time, but an IT security consultant brought it up to my attention on how you can use it to stalk people. No, I was not interested in stalking someone, but wanted to look into it…for security purposes!

Visiting images.google.com, I decided to upload the image I use for many of my online avatars. Once that’s completed Google returns all the search page results where you can find that image. Because I use it in social media sites like Twitter and Google+ I found it on other accounts at those sites, but only if I commented, shared or retweeted, a post. Ok. No big deal, right?

Well, I looked further and found that my image is also on some 411 sites. Sites you need to sign up and pay for to use. My guess is that those websites are crawling the interwebs for people’s info and simply indexing it into their database to serve it up for those willing to pay their fees. Again, not a big deal since they’re probably banking on providing my image with the “is this the Sean Kelley you’re looking for?”

Then I came across the site that made me nervous. Continue reading “Keeping an Eye on Your Online Identity”

Recent Reads – We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book. Written by Parmy Olson, It provides you some insight into the world of 4Chan, Anonymous, LulzSec and the folks that find themselves immersed in the internet underground. Let me tell you, it’s a different world.

It starts out explaining the roots of 4Chan from 2Chan and gets into the plethora of irc chats that make up the main channel of communication throughout the underground community. It’s a place that most of us wouldn’t understand. But, as mentioned in the book, people adapt to the environment. It’s something you have to read to understand.

We are Anonymous book

While some antics may seem immature, there are plenty of people that tend to overlook the stigma that may be placed on individuals in everyday life. Gender is one such topic. Nobody cares if you’re male, female, or something else. The lingo is interesting. Using the word ‘fag’ to describe different types of people was something that someone may find offensive, but others would overlook because it’s simply used as a word to describe someone and not necessarily to attack one’s sexual orientation. Again, some simply won’t understand.

The details of the story eventually revolve around the key players that went from Anonymous to the group known as LulzSec – Topiary, Sabu, and Kayla. This is the same group that attacked the Church of Scientology, Sony Pictures, XFactor (TV show), FBI and a few others. I found the moxy of these guys to blow me away. No question there was a conscious understanding that getting caught hacking websites and breaking into networks/email accounts would be a big deal. Many measures were taken to stay ‘anonymous’ online to prevent from being tracked down; yet, there was a certain drive to wreak havoc among different groups, companies, or individuals that would eventually lead to the capture of aforementioned players. Sometimes the attacks seemed to have what could be considered a ‘noble cause’ while others did not. The reputation that many members gained is intriguing. You read a whole book thinking Kayla, conveying an online persona of a young girl, ends up being a young man residing in London.

I do find it hard to understand how the author obtains all the details to write the book, where much of the communication, again, occurs online via irc channels. Regardless, it kept my attention and sucked me into a world that may not be for everyone. There’s counter culture – even within the hacker/IT security space, dialects, ‘mob rules’ mentality and a lot of different facets that were really interesting.

Recent Reads – Of Dice and Men by David M Ewalt

I’m a big audible.com fan. I find there’s plenty of dead time that could be used for something, like driving in my car, and podcasts and audio ‘books’ do the trick.

Most recently I ‘consumed’, using ‘read’ when referring to an audio book seems weird, Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt. of-dice-and-men-cover

I can’t say this will be the most formal of book reviews, but a short synopsis never hurt. I’d say this is intended to cover the, “I consumed <insert title> recently.” and the standard reply to those that would ultimately ask, “what did you think?”.

It reminded me of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms by Ethan Gilsdorf, where the author reminisces about his gaming past and then rediscovers it. I can relate to this. It may have happened to many of us. There is fictional pieces, done from the perspective a rpg party member, it’s actually narrated in the audio book outside the normal prose. I didn’t care much for that. It’s kind of like hearing about someone’s character. It broke up things a bit too much for me.

The history of TSR and Dungeons and Dragons was the interesting part for me. Much of it was known, but I did enjoy much of the background. I actually didn’t realize the limited contributions that Arneson played in the overall scheme of D&D. I’m sure this could be debated, but nonetheless, it’s no secret how much Gygax had to do with the game and TSR. I was also amazed at the shooting star that was TSR and how they utterly f’ed it all up. I mean, we’re talking 4000% growth at one point, $16M company gone to crap. Amazing.

Later in the book the author did a pilgrimage to Lake Geneva and Gary Con. Nice touch. Again, I can relate. And then there was a chapter on LARP. Great, but nothing that appealed to me. Seemed like it was filler since it didn’t relate to TSR, D&D, or Wizards of the Coast – current owner of the D&D properties. Hell, someone could have thrown in World Of Warcraft or something similar.

In the end it’s a decent listen, but set your expectations medium to low. If you aim them too high you will come across disappointed.