Daven’s 7 Internet Safety Rules
7 Rules to stay safe from predatory tactics and fraud on the internet
As a father of social media savvy children and an author on the behavioral forensics of fraud, considering how people harm each other on the internet has been top of mind for me for several years. From recent insights following presentations to the FBI as well as spooky hacks that have included major corporations such as SONY, people’s capacity to harm via the internet is as incredible as its ability to do good.
Perhaps the most terrifying for everyday people was the recent hacking of a Jeep while driving on the highway. Even though the hack was done with the driver’s knowledge, it came within moments of killing the driver and other drivers on the road as he was driving down the St. Louis interstate.
As Leonardo DaVinci observed: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. So, in a humble attempt to make the complex simple, without oversimplifying, here are “Daven’s 7 Rules” to keep in mind relative to the dangers of the internet and those who want to harm – share with your friends and loved ones! Keep Daven’s 7 in mind as you actively and passively become more immersed into the web.
Daven’s 7 Rules for Internet Safety
An Organizational Psychiatrist’s cautions for being vigilant on the Web
- Tell your kids: If you can see the internet, then the internet can see you.
- The internet of things is good, powerful and dangerous: Beware taking the internet into the world: If things can see you and the internet sees things: the internet can see you.
- You in hi-res = high risk. The increasingly complex, high resolution picture of you on the net means there are more details about on you. This has implicit dangers: The more things see you, the more complex a picture can be made of you.
- The more things see you the more they know what you think is important: you are what you value, and the internet knows it. These “things” can be quite personal: news sites, Google questions, your location, your calls, your texts, what you purchase: they are a laundry list of what you value. And, as many data points are also self-broadcast, they provide points and methods to access what is most personally valuable to you. Facebook knows this and sells your information to marketers. These details about you, arranged in the form of a profile, is available to not only those who want to persuade you (to sell you things or get you to join some cause) but they can also be used to play on your emotional triggers. These are opportunities to seduce you or to extort from you. Be careful what is exposed on the web as beyond guileless marketers there are those who want to malignantly deceive. As a reminder, and as google directions say: “Take a u-turn when legal”.
- Remember your elders. Overtime, a human brain ages and decelerates. Simultaneously, the internet follows Moore’s law and accelerates: this is a bad combination for all of us especially our parents and grandparents. As our brains age (and in the minds of predators, as we acquire wealth) they are less efficient at distinguishing camouflaged threats. Meanwhile technology’s capacity to mimic reality grows. The internet will grow stronger at deception while each of our skills at detecting grows weaker.
- Beware an emotional Siren song on the net. The lurkers want you to get excited about easy money or getting something valuable for cheap. “Are you excited?” Excitement is a basic emotion, or affect, and this emotion is consistently refined to find easy targets and manipulate them over the internet. “Gullibility=Manipulability.”
- Legend of the internet trolls. Trolls are unhappy people and likely are hurting. They are unable to see the pain in others and if they did they would likely stop – we are hard-wired to stop hurting when we see pain. Yet, so much fraud and other mischief is done without seeing the other person. These are victimless crimes in the mind of the perpetrator but not painless crimes for the victim. In the end, there is great promise on the web, but also, the internet bodes long term danger for human kind. In the lack of human contact people can’t see hurt, and so their brains sense no hurt, and so there is the potential to hurt more than they may intend. And psychopaths hurt despite seeing pain in others.