Q: Which of these doors would be more appealing to someone intending harm?
Q: Which of these blogs would be more appealing to someone intending harm?
A. The Jones Family: Trying to keep up with no one!
B. Gray's Blog: Life is never black and white
C. The Steve and Holly Mountaintop Family: Loving life in Alpine, Utah
If you answered "C" to both questions, pat yourself on the back! (Go ahead. No one's watching.)
While someone intending harm could break into all three of the doors shown above, he would prefer the 3rd door since it has no deadbolt and provides the least resistance.
While someone intending harm could physically find all three of the families in the blogs above, he would choose the 3rd family since he has the first and last names of two people and the city they live in, which provides the least resistance. He has enough information to find their phone number and/or address.
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of people put personal information on public blogs. On top of their full names and locations, I've seen phone numbers, personal email addresses and even home addresses listed!
Dudes! EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, you put on the public internet is accessible by anyone. ANYONE.
"But no one reads my blogs."
This last week, I got an average of 8 comments per blog entry. How many people do you think that means visited my blog?
My blog tracker says I got 50-100 people visiting my blog each day of the past week. That means there were 40-90 people EACH DAY who didn't let me know they visited. More people read your blog than actually comment, even if you have a blog with zero comments.
"But only people I know and trust visit my blog."
Not if you have a public blog.
My blog tracker tells me that I've been visited by someone in several cities in almost every state in the United States, plus 17 other countries. Some people passed right on through. Some stayed and read for a long time. Strangers come upon my blog all the time, a few have commented on it. I, personally, come across strangers' blogs regularly, even ones with no comments on them. *I'm* the stranger.
"I still think no one outside my family visits my blog. I never have anyone comment."
Install a tracker on your blog, and you will be surprised. Also, blogs come up on search engines, depending on what you're discussing on your blog and what a person is searching for.
Go to Google and do a search for "family blog."
In less than one second, you will pull up thousands and thousands of blogs belonging to families who think "no one will ever find our blog."
Do a search for "family blog" with your state's name on it.
Do it again but add your city name this time.
What did you find?
Choose a family from the list generated. Do you find any more identifying information about them? What are their kids' names? What schools do they go to? Do they have a dog? Is there an illness in the family? Weddings, new babies, moves, deaths? What does the blogger do for a living?
"OK. Yeah, so?"
You're a good guy. You were merely curious. A bad guy is not just curious; he is looking for the door with no deadbolt on it. Maybe he wants the nice car you just bought and blogged about. Maybe he wants your identity to buy his own car. Maybe he wants your child.
I did a search with "(my town, my state) family blog" and in half a second, I had a list of people living in my town. Some of the families had no comments on their blogs, and still, they came up. So much for "no one reads our blog." Some of the families included nice long lists of the first and last names of friends and neighbors. So, even if they have no more information I could glean, I could try their parents', sisters' or neighbors' blogs.
Here's the first favor you can do for your friends and family. When you link them on your blog, only list their first names. (For example, "Adhis" or "Adhis and Dave" or "Queen Fantastica".) If you must have their last names, list them without the first names, if you can.
Don't post your city and state on your blog. It's not terribly hard to find your phone number even if it's NOT listed in the local phone book. Also, don't list your phone number or email address on someone else's comments section. The blog author isn't the only one reading those comments. If you must leave a way for the blog author to contact you, create a free email account just for public posting and use that in her blog. To cut down on spam, write out your email address. (For example: myfakeemail (at) hotmail dotcom, or something like that, so it is not easily picked up by webcrawlers.)
Here's the second favor you can do for your friends and family. If someone posts her phone number, email address or any other identifying information on YOUR blog, contact her and let her know you got her comment but that you are going to delete it for her sake. Then, delete it.
And lastly, be mindful about what you say in your posts. Don't write about your husband being out of town. Wait until he gets back to blog about it. Don't talk about your plans to visit Yellowstone National Park next week. Blog all you want about your trip when you get back, but don't let the world know your house will be empty for a week. (For fun and security measure, once in a while, google your name, phone number or address and see what, if anything, comes up.)
I'm trying to inform you, not freak you out. Remember that ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING, you put on the public internet is accessible to anyone.
[Posted song: "Private Eyes" from Hall & Oates]