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  • Writer's pictureBernard Jan

Your Identity Was Stolen

First of all I would like to thank Robert Siciliano, #1 Best Selling Author, Personal Security & Identity Theft Expert, Certified Speaking Professional, US Coast Guard AUX, as he introduces himself on his LinkedIn profile, for being so kind and sending me a Kindle Book gift 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before . . . Your Identity Was Stolen.

It isn't hard to be aware that we live in a world where crime is a number one news at all times and everywhere. When you turn on your television and browse hundreds of various channels, crime and violence are everywhere: in the news, in the movies, in music, books, art, sports, even in schools. When you open your newspaper or, heaven forbid, go online, a crime wave hits you with fierce and might. Even the radio is not sparing you with the news about crime and violence between fewer and fewer music numbers which have been pushed aside with ever greater number of commercials.

Yet, in spite of that general knowledge and awareness, it is a completely another story when you are personally subjected to crime and violence, when it happens to you. True, one thing is seeing and hearing about it, the other thing is experiencing it on your own skin. If you hadn't have such an experience so far, consider yourself to be the lucky one. Because, sooner or later we all fall victims. You don't believe me?

Each time you open your computer and realize something's wrong with it, you fall victim of violence and crime. Each time you get a warning from your anti-virus program, you were subjected to violence and crime. Each time you had to pay for damage or buy a new laptop, you were victimized. Because this is all crime. It doesn't matter if it was committed in cyberspace; the great majority of population with the access to the Internet today spends almost as much time in their little cyberspace as in their daily activities and routines. We all have friends from other continents and countries of the world, and the Internet has given us an opportunity to network, reach out and “mingle” with people we otherwise wouldn't know! And this is a great thing. But it isn't a great thing if someone violates that world of ours, trying to steal it from us, trying to steal things from us or rob us from our identity!

Picture this: What would happen if every hacker with criminal intentions who prays on us in the cyberspace walks somewhere in our real world with a gun in his hand and comes upon us? Imagine the viruses he seeds and spreads through our computers are bullets that were about to hit us, how many times we would be dead or dying already?

You can say that computers are only things, they could be replaced, which is true. But they are our property, they are an extension of ourselves and our computers are us because all our information, all the things we loved and share with others, our pleasant moments and memories we cherish are floating through the vastness of a cyberspace. And therefore, they are subjected to be shared and appreciated, or – victimized.

Once online, always online is a credo of a virtual world. For what purpose nothing can remain private or hidden, Governments (not God) only know. Precisely from this reason we have to be alert. Always. Dangers of the real world seem to be fading or nothing in comparison to threats that lurk behind each our keystroke. Threat is everywhere, silent, hidden and invincible. Though, there is still no reason to be paranoid or paralyzed with fear, because the answer is in prevention. Protection.

Once more I thank Robert Siciliano for reminding me how careless we can be. While reading his book I reflected myself on the moments of frustration, desperation and anger when I was subjected to the violence and Internet crime when my computers were infected with viruses. Back then I did not realize what pleasure and satisfaction someone had in harming individuals who didn't even exist for him. Whom he will never meet in person and get to know the true them. Because, you cannot see the real us from the images and post we enter into a cyberspace. These are just fragments of our (virtual) lives, there is so much more to it. Our personalities, our humanity is something that can be experienced only in person, if you want to know the real, complete us, that is.

Now I see things differently.

He pointed his gun at my face, and shot me. The virus has been released, crime committed. Cyber related violence is a crime and therefore it should be treated as such. Whether it “only” slows down our computer or steals our data, whether it robs our bank accounts or steals our whole identity turning us for days, months, years into people with no life, no future, the walking dead or zombies. You name it.

In his book 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before . . . Your Identity Was Stolen -Your Guide To Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft and Computer Fraud, Siciliano introduces us to identity theft basis, who steals our identity and to the types of identity theft, computer hacking basics and viruses, how cyber-criminals steal our identity, how to protect ourselves online. He also informs and educates us about offline or real world attacks on our identity and how to prevent them and protect ourselves from identity theft, and, eventually, how to restore it.

Yes, it all happens and one can never be careful enough. This is why 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before . . . Your Identity Was Stolen is so important and insightful book. It is a red light of warning, a soft trembling of earth before the quake hits or volcano erupts. It doesn't have to happen to you but it can happen to your best friend. It doesn't have to happen to your mother, but it can happen to your little brother with whom you always quarrel but love him enormously nonetheless. We are all potential victims and all is good as we keep holding a title of being “potential”.

I cannot stop being enthusiast and a naïve person, so I keep thinking and asking myself what would the world look like if hackers, those obviously talented or beyond talented people, would channel their time, energy and knowledge in helping others. Many of them do, I realize and respect that, but what if every single one of them put the well-being of individuals and the society as a whole before their personal interest and gains? Who wouldn't like to live in such a world!

But we are where we are, our world is as it is, so let's better protect ourselves than be sorry. Let's do it for ourselves, the ones we care about and as a small token of appreciation to Robert Siciliano (and people like him) whose strong commitment remains helping and empowering others to protect themselves from crime and violence both in physical world and cyberspace.

In his conclusion Robert Siciliano says, “I did not write this book to scare you into purchasing identity theft protection or antivirus software, or to spend more money than you need to. My intention is to educate you on the methods, dangers, and implications of identity theft, and point you toward the tools you need to protect yourself.”

In my conclusion I will paraphrase Siciliano in his Dedication and say, “This book review is dedicated to anyone who has ever helped a victim of any kind of crime.”

Thank you, Robert Siciliano.


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