I often tease my parents that I am the forgotten middle child. I have an older sister, and older brother, and a younger sister. For whatever reason, I have been designated as the technical help person for my parents, who are both in their 80s. While my professional work focuses on search engine optimization, social media marketing, and Google AdWords, my personal life is intertwined with two beloved 80-year-olds who can be a bit high maintenance. For example, both of them have AOL email accounts, which is a dead giveaway to the scammers and thieves of the Internet that you are not dealing with the technical cognoscenti!
So, while in San Francisco I consult largely with companies that want to improve their search engine optimization, social media, or AdWords, when I returned to Tulsa, we have what is called “technology day.” I inventory my parents phones and their computers and make sure that everything is in good order, starting with a basic update to their Windows computers and Apple iPhones in terms of the operating system, going through a complete virus scan, and purging their computers of various spyware and malware software programs that they inevitably acquire. Not that long ago, my mom was scammed, in the sense that her AOL email account was hijacked, and her friends and family were sent a notification that my father and she had taken a secret trip to the Philippines, and had been mugged, and that it was immediately important for a friend or family member to send them several thousand dollars. To make matters worse, her AOL account had had her email context deleted. So therefore, when we reacquired control of her email account, it was very difficult to send notifications out to friends and family that this was all a big scam. All of this could have been avoided if they were no longer using AOL accounts, as well as strong Password managers that I would have been allowed access to.
Second Incident Critical to the Password Book
That was several years ago and it was certainly the genesis for my latest book, The Password Book, now available on Amazon. Another incident, was more recent, when I was in Tulsa, visiting my parents, and I noticed that my mom was getting call after call on her mobile phone, and these were the scams going the rounds of the Internet, such as the IRS scam in which you are threatened that you must pay taxes immediately, and what is so ridiculous in this scam, is that the scammers want you to go to Target and get Target gift cards. (As if the IRS would like to be paid in Target gift cards! Come on!) Another such scam is the scam in which Microsoft or Apple technical support purportedly calls you to warn you that you have been hacked. And, third, even more ethically challenged is the scam in which one of your grandchildren is allegedly about to go to jail and needs to have bail money wired to his friend, somewhere usually in a foreign country.
Thus, while my professional life is largely around being a San Francisco consultant for SEO or social media, my personal life became intertwined with the travails of my parents who were constantly attacked by scammers and thieves on the Internet. It is so sad that this is what our society has come to: people spend their whole lives trying to figure out better ways to scam innocent people out of their life savings. For this reason, I sat down at my computer, and, with the top cybersecurity facts in my mind, wrote a small, but I hope important and useful book, about how the average citizen can improve his or her Internet security, ranging from better passwords, to an understanding of how scams work, to an audit of their email or banking passwords to beef up their security. Two-step verification, of course, is central to easy steps to improve password security.
I hope you enjoy the book! (If you’d like a free review copy, please contact me).