Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Moral Hacking: Dark Web Gets Attacked

Let’s face it: there’s always two sides to everything. Two sides to every story. Two sides to every argument. There’s even two sides to every coin. Then it must come as no surprise that there’s even two sides to the Internet: one is called the surface web (the good) and the other is called the dark web (the bad). After more than 20 years of the Internet’s existence, it’s finally been proven that these two sides coexist in a world full of information, deception, and raw data.

Since first being discovered in 2006, the dark web has eluded the public with lies and secrecy, maintaining an existence of deception, fraud, and countless illegal activities and services. The dark web has a full range of illegal content, including gambling, guns, murder-for-hire services, child abuse, child pornography, hacking services, counterfeit activities, bitcoin scams, informational leaks, and guns. This list is rather enormous and almost impossible to trace.

But the dark web can still be attacked and brought to its knees—similar to the surface web’s potential vulnerability.

And, most recently, it has.

The good news came in a short article posted online by Newsweek in early February, stating that “more than 10,000 websites on the dark web were knocked offline.” An Anonymous hacker decided to target an internet provider called “Freedom Hosting II for allegedly hosting child pornography.”

Is there some morality in this hacking? Yes, there’s moral intention here, because there’s many out there who want to defend and protect young children from the far reaches of pornography, and to further halt the humiliation of human beings. The Anonymous group is one who tries to defend people’s rights and liberties through hacking activities and denial of service (DOS) errors on websites. It’s their group’s mission to convey the truth to the world—even if that means blocking immoral content.

How does this relate to human trafficking, though? It’s interesting to note that, with all this dark web activity on the rise, human trafficking cases have doubled from 3,000 in 2012 to 7,500 in 2016. People are being sold, abused, and tortured on a daily basis. The dark web is responsible for these behaviors and actions. The rest of the world doesn’t realize the full extent of the problem. Let’s put it into layman’s terms: “human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.” In other words, it’s a modern-day fraudulent business that happens to be digital and profitable.

Hacking is frowned by experts. But this hack might do some good. By taking down some of the dark web, you alter the fraudulent services of human trafficking and child pornography, limiting these websites from having no Internet access to sell these services to other potential buyers. Even though the interruption will be limited in time, it proves the point that even the dark web is vulnerable to attack.

One strange observation should be noted here: it seems that the longer the Internet has been in service, the longer this list of illegal activities seems to have grown. Business is growing and expanding on both sides of the Internet. In fact, since 2006, it’s estimated that over 10,000 websites contain all of the world’s most illegal content. That’s a lot of daily business activity that’s not being monitored or abolished or observed by government agencies; that’s a lot of business that goes under the radar of statistics, studies, and national polling numbers. Therefore, nobody can really indicate, unanimously and unequivocally, the depths of this abuse on society’s morality side.

It’s also apparent that the secretive and anonymous nature of the Internet helps to hide the real face of its business intent. With over 1 billion secured websites in the world, there’s very few chances that one person will ever visit them all. If you break down the numbers, here’s what you get: only 4% (or 40 million websites) have legal content. This leaves more than 96% (or 960 million websites) having illegal content. You do have to give or take that many websites are on “lock down” or “have been disabled” or “don’t have any content.” It’s almost virtually impossible to state, year by year, the final number of websites that exist in the world.

Even so, there’s always two sides to every story. This is one of them.

Author's Note: There's an effort in this world to expose the Dark Web. Since it represents so much of what the Internet is made of, it's worthy of the attention. This essay proves that even the bad side can be attacked at any time, disrupting its service, and putting a small dent into its operation. The Internet's problems are only starting, but this gives you, the reader, some small insight into the depths of this world-wide issue. There are no easy answers here. When I report on this subject next year, I really don't expect any improvements.

Feel like hackers are moving into your living room? Read this to escape: Ordinary Reflections

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Real Longevity: Portable Flash Drives

The world’s greatest portable tool is not that of a standard hammer. That would not even be close. In the wake of a rising technical world, it’s the small, tiny, hardly-noticeable, very-portable flash drive—a tiny gem of unlimited possibilities. With storage powers nearing an incredible 1 Terabyte (TB), there’s plenty of power packed in something you can literally wrap around your neck and walk outside without anyone taking notice of how much information can be saved on such a tiny, tiny gem.

Flash Drives come in all types!

In true form, the portable flash drive has shattered all the norms and perceptions of data portability. The idea that any user can carry “thousands and thousands of documents” has made this device a fast seller—amassing more sales than any external device ever made. All data, essentially, comes down to a smaller form of storage potential. Users love it. Corporations love it. Terrorists love it. Hackers love it. Just about anyone who transports data loves this gem.

But where did the inspiration come from? Going small had not been on the forefront of any inventor’s mind in the past, so why the sudden interest in downsizing the whole method of storage?

The inspiration for its foundation and portability goes back to the 3.5-inch floppy disk. Downsizing data into a smaller form had been in the works for years. In the late 1980s, 3.5-inch floppy disks were the standard for backing up data and transporting it in a sufficient manner. At that moment in time, floppy disks were much easier to care for and were less bulky than tape drive systems. The days of bulky data backups were nearing an end during the late 1980s.

Users were given a powerful alternative by 1999—something so solid that cloud storage may have matched its power and storage capacity, but not in the same way that flash drives promote true ownership and control over individual data.

The idea came rather easy to a small group of engineers in Germany: give users something that’s small, with non-moving parts, fast transfer rates, impervious to electrical shock, a dust-proof case, and incredibly lightweight in design. There’s no doubt, the flash drive came at the right time.

Over the past 16 years, the flash drive is still used often. The main use, above all the rest, is that of simple data back-up: pictures, documents, music, downloads, favorite places, and videos to name a few. Think of all the ways this information can be transferred and delivered to other places, other computers, and other systems. The usages are endless; the applications are endless; and the creative ideas are endless. Thanks to such a powerful invention, billions of people around the world are able to transfer information, freely and uneventfully, to other places with little skill level.

What about terrorists and flash drives? What’s their angle? The most prolific story to ever come out of a USB flash drive’s use is with non-other than Osama bin Laden, the former founder and head of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda. The story goes that after the 9/11 attacks on America, Osama bin Laden went into a long period of hiding, and limited his use on the Internet, knowing quite well he would be traced, arrested and/or killed. Before his death on May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden would literally type his commands on a standard, off-line data processor, then save them to a USB flash drive. His dedicated couriers would then take these commands, deliver them to an Internet cafĂ©, and then type them in an anonymous email account. This routine and methodology of dictating his Islamist group lasted for about 10 years. Through a stroke of genius, he found a perfect way to transfer documentation under the eyes and ears of powerful government officials.

And hackers? What have they done with this powerful technology? Much can be said about today’s viruses, but a virus can only go so far from a website or email to a potential victim. This process is made much easier by infecting a USB flash drive with destructive programming codes. Once the device is placed into another computer, it can turn it into a blue-screen, unusable paperweight in a matter of seconds. This “virus transferring method” is still used today (even though solid antiviruses are in place), allowing hackers to destroy thousands and thousands of machines by using the weakness and limited skill-level of the common computer user.

Regardless of all the good and bad of its potential usage, the world’s greatest tool still exceeds in a diverse world full of cloud storage and wireless networks. Flash drives still have their place. Add larger storage space designs, and portable flash drives are reaching a sustained longevity.

Author's Note: It comes as no surprise the impact portable flash drives have had on society. Since 1999, this tiny gem (which is truly deserving of this entitlement) has lived up to growing expectations. Users want control over their dataFull control. Private control. Unlimited control. Cloud storage doesn't offer any competition, although younger generations of users don't see it that way. They simply want convenience and quickness, not portability and reliability. But don't expect much to change here: the standard in portability is with flash drives. Unless something else comes along that outplays this product in the years ahead, I only see good outcomes for this amazing and incredible gem.

Need a mental break? Read this: Ordinary Reflections

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lifelong Scam: Technology Robs Human Relationships

Some may say that “life is so much better with technology.” But is that a fair assessment of our modern times? Consider all of the recent worldwide hacking and malware attacks going on with electrical grid and email systems. Even the ethical debate about Russia hacking into the presidential voting system (whether it’s true or false) should raise a few eyebrows with various political parties. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of a peaceful, modern era, does it?

But that’s not what the average computer user thinks. If someone did a survey on the subject right now, most would say—if given the chance to logically consider how much technology impacts their daily living and their way of life—that they find deep satisfaction in it, regardless of the constant threat it imposes. The connection to other people’s lives and information tends to motivate millions and millions of users on a day-to-day basis. In some strange light, it seems that our world is headed for great prosperity and unlimited success in the realms of a digital world, even though threats linger on the horizon.

The benefits of a technical world are opening new doors, opening new possibilities, solving problems, and offering unique connections to a deeper, more meaningful human experience. Smartphones, for example, are bridging that benefit to a whole-new level of human satisfaction, mixing want and need together into a perfect relationship. People can witness that relationship play-out on the streets, in professional offices, in department stores, and anywhere someone can communicate via text or email through a smartphone. They are connected; they are experiencing first-hand instant gratification; they are using technology to better their lives, better their way of living. The “new-normal” of society is being connected every minute of every day.

But really, technically speaking, is technology a lifelong scam? Is it a huge scam by making people believe that technology is a necessity, a means through which to survive and adapt in a new world? Not many consider this as a debate, because their minds are diluted and influenced and brainwashed by brilliant corporate marketing schemes. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a scam as “a dishonest or illegal plan or activity, especially one for making money.” Let’s face it: the computer industry makes money; the smartphone industry makes plenty of money; the government makes even more. It seems anyone connected to tech industries are benefiting by our participation. The average person spends upwards of $100 or more per month on tech gadgets and their ever-increasing service fees.

Let’s get down to it: What could be so dishonest about technology?

It’s simple. Loss of human relationships. While we pour our hard-earned dollars to corporations for their silicon dreams and their golden digital databases, we are being robbed of our personal skills and abilities to communicate with one another. The dishonesty comes from our own actions, our own doings. Most technology is done in “silent mode,” where users don’t physically interact with anyone; they click on a mouse or download an attachment or take a picture and share it or, even worse, monitor someone else’s life without ever participating in it. Plus, they don’t make any effort to have a real friendship. Talk about “silent mode” behavior.

This is a debate with a clear answer: loss of human relationships. That’s what we lose by believing that technology is the new fad, the latest craze—everything under the sun. Maybe that’s why it’s a lifelong scam? All the money, time and effort is not worth the total investment, except for those that benefit by our spending habits.

The real purpose behind technology is the advancement of the human race, but there is a hidden purpose and cost unbeknownst to the public. That cost is robbing us of our personal abilities to communicate with people. The idea is to separate people from each other, then you’ve got control. Complete control. We would have people with little or no critical-thinking skills; people would be unable to survive without technology; people would live in fear; and people would wait for a miracle.

Technology. Life’s so much better with it, yet the flaws of a perfect utopia are being exposed to a new generation of users. Will they view these modern times as safe and peaceful? Or will they view technology as a lifelong scam? It’s up to them to determine how far they’ll allow technology to interfere with their lives, their relationships, and, in the end, their peace of mind.

Author's Note: The real scam is that technology costs money. Pure and simple. It's similar to the hidden fees and charges with credit cards--you just don't realize how much you are paying until you take a closer look at the bill. You pay the bill. You use the card. You want the services and features from it, but you don't know the tiny details written in the user agreement and various service fees. All this money, time and effort is put into this tiny card. You get the benefits. You get the quality service. Yet, you deny there's any scam because you been taught all your life to accept and not question these services. Is that a scam? Or is it corporate marketing done well? 

Need some gentle worlds? Read this: Ordinary Reflections

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016: Technology’s Best Year Ever?

Maybe 2016 wasn’t the best year ever in technology? It didn’t have any extreme improvements with an iPhone or iPad product. It didn’t offer any new protection against identity theft and security breaches (because criminal attack rates were as high as 48% of all causes this year). We didn’t see any new products that took the Internet to a whole new level. Instead, it may have been the year of things we couldn’t see: bot-nets, self-driving cars, Internet of Things (Iot), license agreements, version upgrades, OS upgrades, countless new apps for smartphones and tablets—all the inside parts that make up the whole of technology. This year, programmers and hackers were the award winners.

By the law of averages, good years are usually followed by bad ones. Could 2017 be the year of sagging computer sales, more security breaches, more fake computer support services, fewer free programs from the Internet, and modest subscription charges for using social media outlets? It seems that the Internet is getting a bad rap, especially from the year-end, super-duper mammoth story of Yahoo being breached, affecting more than one billion Yahoo accounts—that’s every single user that has an account with them. Maybe there is hope in a breached world?

But all of us in cyberland have hope. We hope that things can turn around. We hope that the world can sustain the failures of data breaches and malware attacks on businesses and people. Not only do we carry a small candle for religious and political conflicts, our personal hope carries into the world of technology. This deep-seeded passion keeps us using the very products and services that make it all worthwhile: ease-of-use applications, immediate results to all inquiries, good levels of communication and commerce, and even plain and simple curiosity that keeps many users of technology accepting whatever improvements are ahead for 2017.

As stated before in prior articles, technology keeps moving forward, regardless of the outcome. Human beings tend to recover from failure, especially in the world of technical advancement. Each failure in this business is followed by something extraordinary, something vibrant, something noteworthy, and something earth-shattering. Users of technology are hungry for a vast change in the Visual Department. We want to see, to touch, and to experience new forms of technology every year—and it seems this theory follows right in line with how computer speeds double each year (Moore’s Law). Because 2016 wasn’t a year of mind-bending new experiences, we can believe that people are wanting and desiring a proud mix of technology to enhance their pampered lives.

That pampering has included some incredible technology inventions over the years. This year’s award-winning technology developments hardly put a dent into the past inventions of our times. Here’s just a few to note:

  • Microwave oven. Developed in the 1940s, this invention has forever changed the food industry, making meals more convenient and easier to prepare for all age levels.

  • GPS. Originally developed for the U.S. Military in 1978, this invention helps avoid the confusion of road maps, because half of all Americans carrying a smartphone will have GPS apps leading the way.

  • Computer mouse. Invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1964, this one invention is easily overlooked and hardly ever mentioned in today’s rapid-fire, fast-paced digital world.

  • The Internet. First available to the public in the 1990s, this invention has arguably changed the world in ways beyond any other invention.

  • Cellphones. Martin Cooper makes the first cellphone call on April 3, 1973. Ten years later, the mobile phone industry grabs the interest of the public, motivating people to communicate wirelessly over a network of cell towers.

It’ll be difficult to match the awe-inspiring nature of these legendary inventions. But this year still made huge advances under the hood of electronic appliances, phone support bots, self-driving automobiles, and smarter apps. Each advancement saw a change in connecting these same devices to cloud services, giving them the ability to upgrade themselves without human intervention. That’s an amazing year—when you consider that people didn’t even know about these new services. Smarter, faster—these 2016 devices grew to be more self-smart, more self-reliant than ever.

That leaves only one question: Will 2017 be a tech-breaking year?

Author's Note: In the world of technology, 2016 will always be remembered for its data breaches, malware attacks, and product failures more than anything else. The newest developments happened without any fanfare or media attention. Self-driving cars and bot-nets were the overall winners of the year. You could even push the envelope and say that Windows 10 began to be accepted more by the public, although it still seemed under keen skepticism and resistance from technical experts. More than presidential races and political unrest, 2016 seemed to cement technology into the mindset and forefront of human life, a life that is now almost completely digital.
Need more advice? Little Black Book: Protecting Your Digital Life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

True American Grit: Does It Exist Anymore?

With the rise and dominance of technology in the 21st century, it comes as no surprise that people are losing their edge, their sense of purpose, and their moral and ethical values—especially with youthful computer users. It’s true. There’s no denying it. It’s also self-evident when you think of all the difficult things in life that don’t require any physical and/or mental skills—people just Google everything and get answers. Simply put, living boils down to an act of point-and-click thinking with a mouse.

The lack of social skills and common-sense thinking ideals are on an upward swing. It’s easy to see this trait when most people who sit next to each other at a bar or a restaurant or even a park bench can’t communicate or relate to one another. Let’s face it: we live in a world of constant distraction; we live in a world built with perfection and perfect timing; we live in a world where one can live out their fantasies without ever leaving their home; and we live in a world where we can separate ourselves from all the world’s problems and pretend they don’t exist.

And in this generational transition, true American grit is being lost every day.

By coddling our youth with technology, we may be harming them at levels that tap into that potential grit-side of their character. This constant “tech” coddling is preventing some children from actually learning how to deal with loss and failure—which is an inevitable part of life. Name something on the Internet that fails? Nothing fails. It keeps expanding; it is revised; it is upgraded; it reshapes into something new; it rebuilds itself. It gets to a slanted view that nothing ever fails, nothing ever dies, nothing ever struggles, nothing ever disappoints, and nothing ever is wrong.

That leaves us with one simple question: True American Grit: Does it exist anymore? Ask anyone. They probably would end up using Google to figure out what it meant. But that’s beside the point. Most people don’t know that society, in general, has lost a bit of its edge, its purpose, and its morals due to the spontaneous combustion of the digital era. This digital era has disconnected many from the things that other older generations had built and managed for decades—the gritty lifestyle of working hard, playing hard, and giving of yourself to help others.

Grit is obviously on the rise—with millions and millions of computer users. They are the trendsetters and innovators of a whole-new generation of people that work by “thinking,” not by doing. Their grit is not as noticeable as with past generations. By using technology, today’s users are dealing with viruses and malware and hackers that test both their mental and physical well-being, along with their incredible thirst and hunger for raw information while using Google.

But Google is a way of life for billions of people on this planet. Consider it today’s version of digital grit. Just announce the word Google on the streets or at a meeting in any city or town, and some people will pull out their smartphones and look things up in an instant. They will read, with passion and excitement, raw information (whether anyone listens or not). It’s a true obsession; it’s a true high. It’s become a mainstay for people to show off their computer skills at looking things up in a precise and controlled manner. They realize that everything is available to them at any given moment of the day—and they are proud, for some reason or another, of this strange fact. Many people claim that if it can’t be found in the real world, it can be found on Google.

Is there any grit in that? That’s easy to answer: Google doesn’t require any thought processes. It doesn’t require concentration. It doesn’t require sweat or ambition. It doesn’t require a special set of skills. It doesn’t require insight or critical thinking. It doesn’t ask anything of you. It doesn’t allow you to fail. It doesn’t challenge you. In a strange sense, Google is like a book you find at the library and share with all your friends. Then again, it’s something you share openly and honestly, whether it’s real or fake—that of which you may never really know. You take Google—and its trusting answers—at its word.

And in that simple digital exchange, another piece of true American grit is lost forever.

Author's Note: This may be the best topic to finish the 2016 year. It's a long, overdue fact that true American grit is gone. It's been lost to the Golden Digital Age of Technology; it's been robbed from the younger generation's grasp. There's a sense of it gone by just walking down the street, sitting around strangers (although they never look at you), and there's a sense of it found in any town, any city, any place you can name. Self-centered tendencies have become the spotlight to another generation, highlighted by these main features: it's now the Google Generation; it's now the Entitlement Generation; it's now the Non-Volunteer Generation. The future doesn't seem to have much grit, does it?
Add this unforeseen problem to the downfall of true American grit: Little Black Book: Protecting Your Digital Life.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Panic Attack: 1 Billion Yahoo Accounts in Jeopardy

Talk about panic attack: Yahoo announces one of the world’s largest and most disturbing attacks on its twenty-one-year-old email service on December 14, 2016. Once the dust settles and the numbers come in and the media gets exclusive interviews with corporate insiders, here’s what hackers stole: 1 billion Yahoo accounts. That’s an amazing amount of information to be stolen from a corporate-level business. Unknowingly (and without any fanfare), hackers were able to defy the odds and steal an entire database worth of usernames, passwords, security questions and answers, back-up email addresses, and other private and secure information. They stole it. They were successful in their timely quest to hack a popular and trusted corporate leader in technology. In turn, they are trying to sell this information on the black market (referred to as the dark side of the Internet)—in places that the common user will never see or even visit in a lifetime of computer web experience.

One billion Yahoo accounts—that’s more than one tenth of the 7 billion people on the planet that have an email address. People from all around the world will feel the pain and anxiety and discomfort that comes from losing something so precious and so intimate. Talk about trust issues with Yahoo; they are trust issues that would take another article to explain. Regardless, that’s a serious corporate take-down; that’s a flaw in basic security and mismanagement of people’s private information; that’s a way to destroy a reputable company in one night; and that’s almost the start of World War III without firing a single bullet.

In this crazy, mixed up world, anything is game. Data breaches. Digital loss. Identity theft. Ransomware. Viruses. Malware. Are we really not seeing the potential of data theft? Do we need to think like hackers to gain that edge, that certain perspective to imagine the next attack? We live a world where everything is at risk, where everything is vulnerable. Believe me, this modern philosophy is turning into a mainstream threat.

Yahoo’s problems are about to start. The real problem isn’t about the loss of private information with its millions and millions of users; it’s really the huge wave of anger and resentment to their loss of trust. That same trust has been put to the test with weak phone support, prior technical breaches, and a feeling of overall disappointment in Yahoo’s product. Many will finally leave Yahoo for this particular data breach. Many will head to social media and degrade the company’s moral fiber. Many will protest and write letters to Yahoo’s security department. Many will attack the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, on an intimate and personal level, holding her completely responsible for the debacle. Imagine the fallout. Imagine the embarrassment felt around the world about Yahoo.

Don’t miss the subtitle to this article: it’s a new era of digital threats by hackers.

But, honestly, who’s next? Gmail? AOL? Hotmail? Something’s in the works. You can’t deny it’s bound to happen to one of these giants. None of these corporate technology companies are out of the loop. Hackers are in the works to hack these giants and bring them to their knees. There’s many sleepless nights ahead for security and quality control departments for each of these companies. Believe me, in an industry where a single click could destroy millions of accounts, anything can happen—and it’s bound to happen sooner than later.

The connection to this data breach may be explainable, may have its reasons, and may be justifiable by hackers. In the plight of a political landscape, the soon-to-be-elected presidential candidate is nearing his peak in controlling the most powerful country on Earth. With political awkwardness at a high intensity, this data breach is easy to understand. Hackers are setting an example to the United States government, including technology companies and other world leaders, that nothing is safe in a technical world. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. We all knew that putting time-sensitive data on someone else’s server isn’t the safest and most logical method. Once data is put out there, it’s a trust game. It’s taken Yahoo twenty-one years to build a trust factor with its clients. All that trust is gone in a single night.

That’s a panic attack put into high gear—1 billion times over the limit. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, yet no superhero can save us from the untimely loss of our own digital footprint. Perhaps in the months and years ahead, Yahoo can reflect upon its company missing out on an historical and most-disturbing attack that may have simply defied human reasoning, but delve into the likes of gritty imagination to leave the world in digital jeopardy.

Author's Note: The cat is out of the bag. Yahoo has made a major mistake, a global mistake, a mistake for the ages. By not keeping up with the right security measures, Yahoo has put themselves in a very vulnerable position. Things don't add up in this breach. I mean, the idea that 1 billion Yahoo accounts are in jeopardy. Who's responsible for this mess? Management? Staff? Programmers? Or is this an inside job? And what about the timing of it? Political aspirations? Is Yahoo falling into desperate times? You can see a hundred reasons why this happened. Hopefully, never again.
All the more reason to work on your digital book. Here's a good thought to all of this  madness: Little Black Book: Protecting Your Digital Life.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Digital Footprints: Little Black Book Contents

Every user faces the inevitable question: What’s your password? It’s amazing to think, with the availability of all this immediate and flawless technology at your fingertips, that most users can’t answer this basic question. The main reason is the slew of passwords one has to memorize to get into any account, which turns into a long laundry list of passwords over the course of a lifetime.

To help organize this potential mess, the Little Black Book comes into play. This book is your off-line, go-to guide about your digital life. You need to get this book in order. It needs to be offline and in a safe, locked place. Cloud storage for this kind of information is not recommended, for it’s not a safe haven by any means. Remember, the contents of this book could ruin you and your family if it were to get into the wrong hands. Guard it with your life.

Change is inevitable. That’s why nothing could be more important than updating your usernames and passwords for all your online business dealings. Your private information is at the heart of today’s threats. By changing your passwords for different websites, you play hardball with the hackers and spammers of the world, ones that would love to get a hold of your private information and commit identity theft and financial fraud while using your name.

Little Black Book—this is a private booklet that contains pages of digital content and time-sensitive information like:
  • Usernames and passwords for websites, including any recent changes in the past year. Most website companies require yearly password changes.
  • Lists all security questions and answers.
  • Indicates the date when you first activated the account.
  • Reveals the entire website address.
  • Indicates phone numbers and email addresses for contact information.
  • Lists computer passwords and smartphone log-in numbers.

Benefits to the Little Black Book

The fundamental benefits of having a Little Black Book are clear. There’s one thing you don’t ever consider: What happens when you die?  What happens to all this private data about yourself? You realize that the Internet isn’t going to stop working and that websites aren’t going to close shop when you die. This means your private information continues to live on with or without you. Is that clear? Your digital life is stored in the vastness of the world’s largest database, and you need to realize that your accounts could be compromised without you here to defend them.

Your main benefit is protection. With any legacy, protecting it from harm and embarrassment should be a concern. Your words, pictures and thoughts will live forever in a digital world. To prevent this harm, a loved one—or a trusted computer expert—can cancel out and remove your dead accounts from the Internet, thus protecting your legacy for future generations long after your death. 

Yearly Changes to Passwords / Security Questions

By the end of this year, it’s probable that you’ll be forced to change your password for one of your main accounts—most likely a banking or financial website. It’s common for these institutions to promote a change for various security and safety reasons.

Should you change your passwords more often? Some of your most-used accounts—the ones that you spend the most time on—should be changed every year. Period. It makes sense to keep them up-to-date with the latest and most secure phrases. Thirteen characters is recommended, broken between letters, numbers, and odd symbols. Developing unique sayings (house$by$theriver) helps you remember these passwords in a passive manner.

Should you change your security questions? Some of the biggest online companies are demanding that you pick a different security question/answer every year. It’s obvious that these sayings are hackable and vulnerable, leaving your identity and data at risk. It’s a good idea to review these security questions, then pick new ones to raise the bar on protecting yourself and secure your privacy.

“It’s time to protect your digital footprints. Take action today. Not tomorrow.”

—Brian W. Maki, Computer Consultant, Author

Author's Note: This is one of the tools you need for today's digital world: a Little Black Book. Keeping track of digital information is a must, and this is something you need to get into your hands today, not tomorrow. Every minute you wait, the more chances are that it will never be documented and/or recorded. You hold this vast amount of digital data deep inside your brain; let it out. It'll make it easier for someone else when you aren't here anymore.
I should know. I've written the book about this topic way before it became an issue:
Little Black Book: Protecting Your Digital Life.