Why are we Digitally Imprudent?

A number of events this week point to our disturbingly naive relationship to an increasingly digital world.  A woman in Washington State was videotaped by a home security camera stealing a package off a front porch.  The video of her slipping and spraining an ankle in her victim’s front yard as she ran to the getaway car has gone viral.  The theft and her accomplice have been identified thanks to this evidence.

One would think that in this day and age, a criminal seeing for example, a Nest cam attached to a front door would go elsewhere.  Yet porch package thefts are on the rise.  Where is the deterrence value?  Nonetheless, complacent criminals who don’t pay attention increase their chances of getting caught.

A U.S. Air Force sergeant has been removed from her supervisory duties as the result of a video rant she posted on Facebook where her expletive laced criticism of military colleagues lasted for several minutes.

That people continue to post personal information to say nothing of rants that make them look very bad indeed with their bosses, colleagues, friends and neighbors plus the thousands of people who view it virally, is hard to understand.  Complacent employees who don’t pay attention increase their chances of getting caught.

The biggest news story was about Strava – a fitness app.  Strava created a global map plotting every user on the planet, at least those who had not figured out how to opt out of public setting which allowed Strava to use that user’s data.  With over 25 million users worldwide, including fitness devices Fitbit and Jawbone users, that adds up to a lot of data points. The Strava map Global Heat Map shows two years of accumulated activity between 2015 and 2017.The term fitness tracker should be not just a clue but a warning to us.  We are being tracked and neither where the data gets displayed nor who has access to it are guaranteed or known to us.  A 20 year old student studying military movement in the Middle East stumbled across the Strava data that he used to show activity of soldiers and locations of military bases.  The Pentagon had been giving out fitness tracking devices to military personnel in an effort to decrease obesity and improve health in the ranks.  One hopes the military continues to promote fitness and that soldiers continue to jog.

But the result of the student’s exposure of the Strava map is the U.S. military vowing to change its policy about wifi and tech devices by its personnel.  Here is an excellent article on the Strava situation.

Technology is cool, we depend on it increasingly and we just love it.  But there is so much potential for misuse that not being aware and prudent is foolish.  In some instances, the damage is minor.  But in the hands of a clever and motivated enemy, the results of a malicious attack via poorly fortified digital doors could be terrifying.  Given the number of examples we read about, one wonders if we aren’t experiencing some kind of global suspension of disbelief.  Despite piles of evidence showing we need to change our digital habits or suffer miserable consequences, we continue to use our default WiFi router passwords and ignore privacy setting on our email and Facebook accounts.  Why are people – individuals, businesses and military not stepping up?

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