Letterboxing 102

Second in a series of security issues by our resident security specialist, Don Jackson

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Welcome to Letterboxing 102

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Internet Information by Don Jackson

Many times letterboxers will forget the access potential when posting notes on a chat list. While most of us enjoy conversing with our fellow boxers there may be times when a boxer will post personal information in a note. Moderators can delete those posts when they come across them, and the writer of the post can use a delete button as well on their own posts. Personal information should be omitted from letterbox clues as well.

Now many folks may be thinking, “What is the harm?” well here is a little test you can do for yourself. Go to a search engine (I use Dogpile as it covers many engines) and type in your home phone number using the area code and the complete telephone number. Click on your name when it pops up, and then Mapquest will have a map showing the best route to your house. There is a function you can use for deletion of this service, but to be quite honest I’m not sure that it completely deletes access for everyone.

Once you have done the first little test, then go back to Dogpile and type in your name, or trail name with ‘letterboxer’, or some other derivation of our hobby right after your name. If you have many planted letterboxes or have a few posts on chat lists then you might be surprised how many listings you will find. If you are involved with other web based hobbies or chatlists those information sources may be listed as well.

There are some that believe that using PO Boxes, cell phones and other non listed sources will be a protection from obtaining their information. For a small fee there are several online information gathering companies that will provide your address and other personal information from those sources.

Atlas Quest has an area on the profile page where you can post an image of your stamp. There are a few folks that have decided that instead of the stamp image, they would post their picture. I guess that wouldn’t be all that bad if you were an old curmudgeon like me and wanted to show off a potbelly, baldhead, and gray beard, but in a few of those cases the photo shows an extremely attractive young lady. My guess is that the photos are real and very well could interest someone of lesser character than most letterboxers.

I realize that letterboxers are somewhat “free spirits” and don’t like to always consider the negatives, but when posting information on the Internet, just don’t make it personal. Err on the side of caution. Stalking occurs with regular folks as well as celebrities, and identity theft is one of the new hot topics in the security field these days.

Everyone has heard about the NSA eavesdropping/wiretapping that has been used by the current administration. Now I don’t claim to be an expert on what or how this program works, but I’m fairly sure that Internet communication is being sifted. If the government can do it now, it won’t be long before private individuals and industry will have the same capability, if they don’t all ready have that ability.

Basically the bottom line is "if you put it on the Internet, it isn’t secure.”

While there is those that may still wish to ignore this advice, at least now you can make an informed choice.

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