The Internet Parent
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Friday, December 22, 2006

Hacker, Miss Nevada Learn the Hard Way

It's never really private, and it's never really gone...

I've published an earlier piece on how we need to teach our kids, and realize ourselves, that Internet behavior is public behavior, and that the Internet is forever.

Here are a few additional cautionary tales on the topic, to contemplate over eggnog.

Internet behavior is public behavior. First, Declan McCullagh's CNET news story "Police blotter: Google searches nab wireless hacker" illustrates just how "not private" the Internet can be. Matthew Schuster, apparently disgruntled after being fired from Alpha Computer Services in Wausau, Wisconsin, misused sensitive data, hacked into networks, and disrupted business. How did they catch him, and what did they use for evidence? According to McCullagh,

"Schuster's own Google searches were used against him.

Court documents say that Schuster ran a Google search over CWWIS' network using the following search terms: 'how to broadcast interference over wifi 2.4 GHZ,' 'interference over wifi 2.4 Ghz,' 'wireless networks 2.4 interference,' and 'make device interfere wireless network.'

Google has confirmed that it can provide search terms if given an Internet address or Web cookie, but has steadfastly refused to say how often such requests arrive."

This isn't the first time either. According to McCullagh, Google search terms were used in a North Carolina murder case as well. Used as evidence against the perp were searches for the words "neck," "snap," "break" and "hold" before his wife was killed.

Think carefully about that. Your search behavior is NOT private. And there's proof that it can help a prosecutor convict you.

The Internet is Forever for Miss Nevada. The next example comes from the world of quasi-celebrity. The Associated Press article "Miss Nevada Loses Shirt, Then Title", by Adam Goldman, relates how the erstwhile Miss Nevada, Katie Rees, was stripped of her title because photos of her participating in, shall we say, exhibitionist behavior, appeared on the Internet. How old are the photos? According to Rees' attorney, Mario Torres,

"Katie Rees Miss Nevada USA wants the public to know she was 17 and had a lapse in judgment. The actions on that evening in subject are in no way indicative of the person she is or the person she has become. … She is a law-abiding citizen and talented adult. This was an isolated incident that occurred more than five years ago when she was a minor."

Even though she's now 22, it doesn't seem to matter. The pictures are out there, even accessible from the ABCNews website. Is it a tragedy for this young woman? Perhaps not. But it's certainly an unwelcome distraction as she tries to launch her career. Our kids may not be beauty queens (and perhaps we would not want them to be...) but they'd be no less immune to the consequences - in fact, a "regular" kid wouldn't have the implicit latitude we grant celebrities. For a regular kid, it might be much worse.

Sorry to be a downer here as we head into the holidays - let's focus on happier prospects.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all. And parents, remember to keep your families safe, no matter where you travel.


  • Thank you for all your posts, the information has been enlightening. Looking forward to other posts.

    By Anonymous Angela, at December 31, 2006 1:14 AM  

  • Good reminder John that everyone should utilise protective behaviours while on the internet. Protecting oneself, from oneself, is something that young people are slow to learn.
    I feel a twinge of sorrow for Miss Nevada and I sincerely wish she hadn't learnt the hard way that you nevada flash your bosada. It is innapropriate public behaviour no matter what a person's age.
    If our past behaviours can be used against us, I urge your readers to also use the past secret behaviours of child abusers. Lets make that public and stop predators from tricking our kids or forcing them into silence.
    Happy New Year to all at K9 and keep up your protective work.

    By Blogger Megan Bayliss, at December 31, 2006 8:46 PM  

  • Megan, Angela,
    Thanks for your feedback.

    I had a discussion with a colleague this morning about child porn (and child predation that it leads to), and what we can do to stop it. I posited that to stop the supply, we have to work on eliminating the demand. And the demand, I'm afraid, comes too often from abused children who grow up to become abusing adults. It's a terrible cycle that we as a culture have to work very hard to break. It's addictive behavior that is infectious from generation to generation.

    And, as they say, sunshine is a great disinfectant. Raising awareness, encouraging communication, and insisting that our communities discuss the problems is absolutely critical. Thanks for your help in raising awareness and spreading the word.

    By Blogger John Carosella, at January 04, 2007 10:04 AM  

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