Spying on us in general and computer hacking specifically is nothing new. It just gets more annoying as the months go by. For some time we’ve had to watch out for webcam hacking, for example, but now it’s almost unbelievably widespread.
Some people are just not aware or are unwilling to believe it, but our own government has been spying on all of us, since October 2001. The Department of Justice can seemingly spy on anyone, any way they want to.
Many think the Patriot Act overreached from the beginning. Instead of nailing terrorists, it too often has heavily infringed on the rights of perfectly law-abiding citizens. Privacy is just about non-existent, even with certain provisions of the Patriot Act now expired.
It Can Happen to You
It’s highly likely it was Homeland Security who used to listen in on my overseas phone calls to my aging mother, who was quite the chatterbox. We could hear “stuff” in the background quite often and it upset her. No, it wasn’t “cross-talk on the wires”. That’s an entirely different sound scenario. But anyone who lived through WWII as an adult or near-adult does not trust their own government, let alone that of the United States or any other foreign power.
Outside of that, I have personally been harassed by bumbling security at a former employer’s workplace. I’ve been followed around town by black sedans, one of which deliberately tried to T-bone my car. For years I was snarled at by junkyard dogs intent on proving I was someone who owed them money when I was definitely not that individual. Additional intimidations have been tried that I’m not at liberty to mention at this point. However, karma visits everyone, especially the poophead instigators out there. And if you dislike the word poophead, feel free to replace it with its more commonly used cousin. I would gladly trade each instigator for an old pair of gym socks or give them directly to attack dogs-in-training as pull toys.
Computer Hacking Avoidance
These days, computer hacking is generally the bigger problem for most of us and a beefy anti-virus system is a mandatory installation on a PC (as well as on a less-vulnerable Mac), even for those who are not power-users of the Internet. For those of us who earn a living searching the Internet or are enrolled in classes that do so, it can be a huge issue.
As it happens, we generally need something more than a beefy anti-virus program. We need something on steroids that will also intercept spying software and malicious adware, etc. There are several good paid programs but sometimes the free programs are even better. They are built on Open Source software and developers appreciate small donations to keep up with their research. You’ll need to do your homework to try out something for 30 days that you can afford and that will work for you. Some programs are so protective they almost drive you crazy.
One of the nastiest intrusions is hacking via the camera on a laptop computer. It’s an epidemic! External webcams are cheap enough to buy but newer owners aren’t always aware their laptop has a built-in camera that can be disabled for privacy. You may need to go to Microsoft Security or the laptop manufacturer’s website to find out how to do that. Generally, the camera is listed under Device Manager/Imaging Devices but each machine is its own world. The camera MIGHT have a tiny green light next to it to indicate when it’s turned on but not all do, so be careful. And know that turning off a camera does not turn off the microphone.
Scumbags who hack webcams usually post the images on the Internet or threaten to do so and then make blackmail demands. The FBI can put them behind bars (if they don’t decline to prosecute for some reason). Scumbags can also install malware through a webcam and may also try to harvest other personal information on your laptop.
Even amateur criminals may take the images of you and attempt to create fake ID cards in order to commit identity theft in person. Fortunately, banks get pretty darn stubborn and uncooperative when they don’t think you’re who you say you are. It’s amazing how a rail-thin blonde will present the ID of a hefty brunette and claim she’s that person: “Oh, I’ve been sick.” And the fake wig doesn’t even cover the blonde hair. America’s dumbest? But some smaller retailers or those with poor lighting may not catch the deception.
Even our Smartphones
The scariest thing of all is that your wonderful smartphone can also take pictures of you, whether your screen is on or not! And a smartphone camera is just about impossible to disable, especially when there’s a dual camera. It would be nerdy to walk around with masking tape on both sides of it, though we could tape up a webcam.
We probably need to stash the phones in a drawer whenever we’re changing clothes. (And guys, that means you, too.) But there’s no money here that isn’t specifically allocated/tied up, so don’t waste your energy trying to blackmail me. When push comes to shove as they say, I also have friends in high places, such as will make you quake in your boots.
But those of us who have been, or will be victims of hacking, especially need to watch out for webcam hacking and maybe buy a roll of masking tape! Just remember the FBI can spy right through or around that, too, to get any data they might want.