Technics Publications

The Audacity to Spy

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The Audacity to Spy: How Government, Business, and Hackers Rob Us of Privacy, by Ashley M. Wilson, JD and Catherine Nolan

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? The thieves that steal identities are using cutting-edge, high-tech tools that can take one fact from a social media site, another from an online travel survey, a third from a purchase made via the internet and even access highly confidential medical records. Little by little they piece together your buying habits, your religious and school affiliations, the names of your family and pets, your political views, your driving habits, the places you have vacationed, and much, much more. This is not science fiction and this is not the future, this is what is happening to each and every one of us now – today. And although the vast majority of adults say they are concerned about providing personal information online, nearly 1/3 say they have never used a privacy setting on their computer, never inquired about the charities to whom they donate their money, never worried about someone accessing their medical information and never thought twice about giving a financial institution their social security number over the internet.


Introduction: Do I have any personal data privacy?

Chapter 1: Social media and “the right to be forgotten”

Is facebook your “friend” or “frenemy”?
What can you do?
Facebook’s statement of rights
Online marketplaces
What can you do?

Chapter 2: Is my car spying on me?

License plate scans
What can you do?
Telematic devices
What can you do?
The little black box and taxes
What can you do?
Can my car’s operating system be hacked?
Accept the reality

Chapter 3: Cards—know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em

Credit cards
Debit cards
What can you do?

Chapter 4: Marketing to the masses

Tracking purchases
Your credit score
What can you do?
In-store and online hacking
What can you do?

Chapter 5: My phone is selling my secrets

E-marketing phone data collection
Using caller id
Apps–are they safe to download?
What can you do?
Securing your phone and data from thieves

Chapter 6: Identity theft

What can you do?
Third-party hacking
What can you do?
Identity theft

Chapter 7: Give to a worthy cause—not to scammers

What can you do?

Chapter 8: The plague of medical identity theft

Medical identity theft
Data brokers and your medical information
Other medical privacy concerns
Your privacy rights under hippa
Children’s privacy rights
What can you do?

Chapter 9: Will your digital assets be buried?

Digital assets
Gaining access to digital accounts
Dealing with death and incapacity
Preparing a power of attorney or will
Service agreements
What can you do without a will?

Chapter 10: Is that you making a withdrawal?

Online banking
What data do banks share?
Banks face risks too
What can you do?
Check scams
What can you do?

Chapter 11: NSA: the people who know everything

National security agency (NSA)
Exploiting vulnerabilities
The “new” NSA
What can you do?

The Audacity to Spy, written by an attorney with an interest in privacy laws and legislation and her grandmother who is an experienced Information Analyst, reveals the ways in which your identity and personal data have been stolen by various sources. Yes, you should be concerned about the NSA and other government agencies having your phone logs and emails; but you should worry more about the insidious data brokers that are collecting information about you every time you log on to your laptop, use your cell phone, access an app, or use your GPS. Companies are collecting a variety of data about you, combining it with location information, and using it to both personalize their own services and to sell to other advertisers for behavioral marketing. Law enforcement agencies are tracking your car and insurance companies are installing devices to monitor your driving. Clerks are making copies of your credit cards. And if that wasn’t enough, the FBI has reported that hackers have been discovered embedding malicious software in two million computers, opening a virtual door for criminals to rifle through users’ valuable personal and financial information.

More than warning you about the ways your data can be stolen, at the end of each chapter are suggestions for limiting the amount of personal data that is available to be seized and divulged. Can you completely cut off the flow of information about yourself? The answer is no, not completely – there is already too much data out there and increasingly sophisticated ways to obtain bits and pieces. But knowing how it is collected, and by whom, gives you the power to control sensitive information and determine how much of your life you wish to expose to those more than willing to exploit it.

About Ashley and Cathy

Ashley M. Wilson, JD, is an Attorney at Law practicing in Illinois and Wisconsin. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and received her law degree at Marquette University. As an attorney she became interested in the growing threat to privacy and the lack of legal protection afforded to individuals by the government and our court system.

Catherine Nolan has an MBA in Business Administration and 25 years’ experience as an Information Analyst. When she became a victim of identity fraud through the hacking of her credit card information, she began extensive investigation into credit card and identity theft. Her research led to this book which describes the many ways personal information is being compromised and how the average person can protect themselves and their digital assets.


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