Thursday, January 27

More Identity Theft Offline Than Online-Study

Despite fears that the Internet is a haven for immorality, a recent report states that 72% of identity theft still takes place offline. Criminals aren't taking their exploits online as a general rule, and (in the case of this study) it's shown that half of people stealing personal information and impersonating others are "friends, family members, and neighbors."

In general, I take this as a sign that the Internet is much safer than the paranoid among us would have you believe. Sure, precautions should still be made to avoid giving away personal information such as home and email addresses to the casual observer, but it seems that these common-sense measures are all that is necessary to avoid becoming a target yourself. You wouldn't walk around the mall wearing your telephone number on a sandwich board, would you? Then don't put such details on your website.

I feel that disclosing your city of residence or business shouldn't be an issue, because those merely help occasional readers to understand or define your perspective and point-of-view. A city is too big to narrow down to one person, but photos, more specific locations, and/or other specifically personal information are certainly among those facts that don't belong in public places.

After all of this common-sense caution is taken into consideration, though, I still find the Internet to be a relatively harmless place. Just as a city is harmless if you stay in the well-lit and respectable areas, exercising just a bit of care when browsing and posting things online will definitely keep you away from its unhealthy aspects.

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.