In light of the message that we received from SBCEO staff with our paychecks for October (I trust that you have all seen them by now), and in light of disturbing reports in the news media of computer hacking (particularly that coming from the NSA), and Identity Theft, etc., it behooves us to take steps to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, the situation gets more and more complicated and problematical with each passing day. Below are some helpful suggestions that I have come across. Everyone feel free to share yours with the membership as well:

  • Change your passwords periodically.
  • If you do online banking, monitor your account frequently for suspicious activity and report it asap.
  • Use a good anti-virus, e.g., Norton, and update it frequently.
  • Use a good anti-malware program as well (some of them have a free option, e.g., Read a review of this program at,2817,2415255,00.asp).
  • PC magazine ( is a pretty good place to check for product reviews and new trends, good and bad.
  • If you have become a victim of crimeware, try Norton Power Eraser ( It eliminates deeply embedded and difficult to remove crimeware that traditional virus scanning doesn’t always detect.
  • Be aware that e-mails are really NOT a secure form of communication; they CAN be and ARE hacked and read, especially by the NSA and the DHS and others (Google it
  • Be aware that it is unlikely that we will ever be able to keep spooks and hackers out of our e-mails because the federal government has legally coerced the ISP’s into allowing them access to our e-mails and Internet activity. Therefore, we must take steps to protect our privacy.
  • Another curious fact to bear in mind: 70% of all intelligence work for the United States government is done by private companies. This has opened the door to industrial espionage and sabotage.
  • Private citizens and organizations would be well advised to develop, at a minimum, some sort of encryption systems for personal use with loved ones and/or close friends, and others for communications with associates at work. Even a simple system for short messages would be helpful.
  • This one is CRITICAL: when your home PC is not in use, you would be well advised to disconnect the DSL (digital subscriber line) from your modem. This line, or cable, connects your modem to the wall socket, and thus, to the Internet. I have been advised that PC’s can be hacked REMOTELY through your DSL line, EVEN IF YOUR COMPUTER IS TURNED OFF! In fact, the spooks have had this ability for many years.

Martin Faries, Non Credit Education