It’s just one of those weeks where I’ve been thinking a lot about identity theft. I mean, for all I know, someone could be pretending to be me as I write this. They are probably already getting curly hair extensions to match my Facebook profile photo, studying YouTube clips to copy my persona and voice tone, and memorizing my social security number as if it were their own. Because, let’s be real, y’all—that info is out there.
With the recent hubbub over the Heartbleed virus combined with the security breach of private student information here at Seattle U, I’ve had to face the fact that my life, and all its contents, are an open book. Or rather, an open webpage.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the events I just mentioned, let me explain.
Heartbleed has been called the worst virus ever to hit the Internet—compromising more than two-thirds of websites, and causing more than enough grief for online services and social media sites. As The Spectator wrote in an article about Heartbleed this week, the bug essentially causes the information-protecting components of the Internet to fail, leaving sites and passwords vulnerable.
An estimated 66 percent of Internet users have been affected by this, according to the Finnish security firm that first discovered the bug. So every time I go on Tumblr or Sound Cloud I am told to change my password, as a preventative measure from losing private information.
Additionally, I received several emails and an extensive letter this week about a security breach within the Department of Public Safety and Transportation here at Seattle U. The private data of 628 students, including social security numbers and medical information was somehow exposed. I was one of those students.
The emails and letter I received were apologetic, and the university has already remedied the issue. But now, after these two pretty large breaches in public and personal security, I have forced myself to slow down and look at what this all means for me. At its most basic level, it means that someone is most likely already transforming into Colleen 2.0. But on an emotional level, what do I feel?
Concern? Confusion? Anger? Should I be bashing down the university’s (metaphorical) front doors in an effort to seek justice and rectification for my precious past and impeccable identity? Should I demand the Internet to make it better? Should I go big and blame the NSA for intruding, because this could all just be a major ploy to invade our privacy in the name of national security?
I suppose I could do a number of things in outrage, frustration or fear. But here’s the thing: I have been struck with the odd realization that I don’t really care.
Call me crazy, call me apathetic, but the truth is, with my social media presence, my constant location updates online, my Amazon buying addictions, someone has probably had access to my identity for a long time—I’m not sure a virus and a security breach make it more likely, necessarily. They just make it simpler. Essentially, the very existence of the Internet makes us susceptible to fraud. We signed onto that when we ordered our online pizza for the first time.
So to the person perfecting their “Colleen” curls and flipping through my photo album from my camping trip on their way to stealing my identity, congratulations. The digital age is totally on your side. But I doubt you’ll find anything that interesting about me anyway.