Someone at work forwarded this to me. Mat's problem is that he offended someone who is smarter than he is. That's easy to do on the internet. It's even possible when posting about things as benign as e-readers.
This is not something that is an internet problem. It happens in real life too. One time I was walking through a park during a snow storm. A car full of kids drove past throwing snowballs. I went to the local police station with the license plate. They provided an address and I showed up at the front door. The driver happened to be the son of a doctor and I assured him I'd return when his father was home. Was he hacked or just stupid?
I vote stupid and Mat is stupid too. I say IS because his home address is still on his home page. So is his home phone. It's not hard to be less stupid.
First, be nice. It's OK to disagree with someone and people do get excited, but if you tork off enough people, one of them is going to pull a gun on you. Worked a chat channel in the 90s. One of the people who helped out referred to herself as DocB. She was pretty smart and one night when a rude kid disrupted out chat, she followed him back to a channel that used special characters to form its name. She just wanted to let him know she was smart enough to follow him home. Next day she got an email with a listing of all the files on her computer. Google DocB to get her email address, then her email address to get some snail mail addresses and business activities...just saying.Rule #1: when discussion comes to the point where neither side is going to change their mind, change the topic.
Second, be smart. You should have at least three email accounts. One account should be for business -- important business like banking and bill paying. One account should be for shopping. One account should be for trivial communication. Use this account for social sites and commenting on things. If your post about chick-fil-a offends people, they should not be able to run up your credit card or empty your bank account. Rule 2: separate business from pleasure.
Finally, be discreet. If you are required to provide personal information to participate in a service, make it up. No one needs your home address or phone number. No one needs to know your politics or hobbies. Create a unique, disconnected profile for each service you belong to. It's OK to have a professional facebook or twitter account with contact information. It should include basic professional information. It should not include sexual preference, social activities, a photo, or even your date of birth. Employers are not allowed to ask for these things, so do not provide them voluntarily. Do not 'link' your alter egos with common information. If you google wizwor, you should not find my home address, phone number, or place of employment. If use of the resource requires some of this information, disassociate it from the rest. IOW, if fatwallet.com has your address, use a different userid on that forum. Do not allow cookies to be stored on your computer. Rule 3: don't leave breadcrumbs.
PS, be thoughtful. Use different passwords for each email account. Passwords are stored somewhere and are unencripted by computer programs. If someone gets, say, a list of linkedin accounts with passwords and emails, using the same password on linked in as gmail and having gmail listed as your email account will allow the hacker to visit your mailbox. With this access, the hacker will likely be able to get in your mailbox and will be able to learn about your business and reset passwords. Also a good idea to not store too much information in your online mailbox. It's also a good idea not to leave too much information on a computer always connected to the internet. If you have to do this, use truecrypt to create a safe place for your data on the pc. (I have moved my financial/tax info to a thumb drive which i read/edit on a computer that is rarely connected to anything.)
If you're nice, use separate accounts for business and pleasure, and take care not to link the two, whatever hacking happens will be incidental, damage will be limited, and responsbility will be shared with an institution with the resources to help clean things up.
Disclosure: I don't do all of these things. I do more today than I used to (separate accounts, unique passwords, limited personal information), but the internet houses a lot of my personally identifiable information.
Last edited by wizwor; 08-11-2012 at 02:44 PM.
Reason: fixed a typo