I don’t talk about it very much, but one of my personal passions, beyond linguistics (which I’ll talk about later!) is info-sec, cyber security, and the intersection in psychology today of how we use and protect our information online, what we ‘trade’ with, and why, and how to teach people some stuff that isn’t as easy as it is for me. Info-sec in general, though I don’t always follow the seriously deep stuff, is something that as a family, we’re quite involved in, and we go to some great events together, like SteelCon. It really is a part of me though – not only do I run the server that most sites I own run on, and I play with that a lot, but I actively develop all of my WordPress sites.
If I’m completely honest though, I don’t always understand much of the really intense stuff, but I read a heck of a lot. Mostly centred around WordPress hacks, but I do broaden my reading outside of the stuff I do for work, just to try and get a grasp on the things that people talk about in the community. And I annoy people by asking a *lot* of questions – usually my other half!
Answers to questions
I guess it’s only fair to answer some of the questions I’ve posed above. I believe that social media, for example, is a great way to decide what information you want to share about yourself, and in trade for that, you get access to the platform. It’s sensible though to remember that things like maiden names, mother’s maiden names, pet names, date and place of birth, address, phone number…they’re all possibly used to access your data, and remembering that, you really should be careful what you share. The bigger question many people ask is why we wouldn’t tell a stranger something, but we post, in public, on social media, including blogs.
For me, I have a data set that I have always shared from. That data set is important to me, but outside it’s boundaries of it, I don’t share. There is no reason to share absolutely everything out there, and I think that sometimes it’s inexperience, but other times it’s because people just don’t realise what they’re doing with it, and how…exposed it can leave them. And I think that’s a danger of the social media. Computers and the net used to be the domain of a few people who had specific skills, or access to kit – now, we carry our net on our phone, and we interact on social media – I know that my interactions on social media are more numerous than my in person ones (but some of that is anxiety), so it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security.
My long term goal with all of this is to use what I understand about coding, info-sec, and psychology to study both forensic linguistics in the hacking community, and to talk a bit about social engineering, which is another area I’m very interested in. It’s something that’s very much ‘in my spare time’ – of which there isn’t much – but, having been at last year’s Steelcon, and answered a few ‘out there’ questions in lectures that people didn’t get, I realise I do understand a bit of it, and it was something that I really enjoyed. Most of it did go over my head, but it gave me lots to ask people about and I made lots of friends. I’m hoping we go again this year, but we might not, I’m not sure. We’ll see.