Strangers Good. People We Know Bad.


Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker

An axiom in business is that we buy from and do business with those who we know like and trust. In the 21st century we have seen CEOs, investment bankers, politicians and those in the highest positions of trust completely screw everyone who put them on their pedestal.

Madoff pleads guilty for orchestrating a 65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme and 3 rows of investors in attendance at his trial clapped, applauded and sang. These are people that bestowed an incredible amount of money in a man that is probably a psychopath. madoff

What does this say about us as a species that trusts so much?

Charles Ponzi began his scheme 100 years ago and was caught 10 years later. The SEC stepped in and stopped him. The SEC didn’t stop Madoff. They allowed him to prosper, until his operation imploded.ponzi

Growing up most of us were schooled on “Stranger Danger” because our parents were also told not to talk to strangers. Strangers are “strange” therefore dangerous. At least that seemed to be the theory. Unfortunately I’ve seen all too often that people we know are sometimes the baddest apples in the bunch. Kids coaches, swim teacher, clergy etc.

In a Wall Street Journal article Bruce Schneier makes the point that people are over all good and generally honest. So approaching a stranger probably wouldn’t mean imminent danger. Basically true.

On the other hand if someone pursues or approaches you, they are essentially paying unwanted attention to you, or distracting you from the truth. Maybe getting ready to take advantage of you in some devious way.

We see this all the time when law enforcement sets up a 14 year old female named Dixey14 in a chatroom and she’s (or he) is quickly approached by 50 men with webcams snapping pictures of themselves. So in this sense talking to strangers is bad. Video Here

Nigerian identity theft 419 scams are based on one single principle to be successful; get to know your mark, get them to like you and they will trust you. Done. They start off a stranger, then become their victims night in shining armor coming to your emotional (and financial) rescue.nigerian Scambaiter video Here

I’ve talked over and over about insiders at a company maliciously hacking away at the network and stealing data. They aren’t strangers, they are the funny drunk dudes at the Christmas party.

You want to prevent being scammed? Prevent Data theft? Prevent identity theft? Prevent being hacked?

Do not exclusively rely on any one system to protect you. Don’t expect the government and their bazillion bureaucratic agencies to protect you. Don’t think law enforcement or any other authoritative agency will be there when a predator strikes.

All existing systems work often, and fail as much.

Security is about layers. The more layers of protection you have in place, the more difficult you make it for the bad guy to get access. Redundancy, predictive, proactive thinking.

Someone pour me a scotch. Single malt.

Oh, and I’m very excited to work with uni-ball in 2009 in a partnership to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and provide tips for protecting yourself. Check out uniball-na.com for more information

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert Discussing Bernie Madoff Con Man Here

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