By David W. Fry
Crouched behind a case of Tylenol, Dean sees his reflection in the shiny placard announcing the sale of Halloween candy on aisle thirteen. A shadow moves to eclipse his image. Dean pivots, his shoes squealing as if to warn, but it’s too late. I’m going to be clocked by a can of pumpkin and I didn’t kiss Cassie goodbye this morning …
You’re in to your story when your social media radar lights up. Fellow ACFWians are pinging you saying they’re getting strange emails and invites. Warnings of posts purported to make you embarrassed. Twitter direct messages promising to expose your secrets.
You’ve been “whacked”-writer hacked.
Think viruses, key-loggers, worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, ad-crime-ransom-spy-ware. And if that’s not enough to make you go post-apocalyptic, your computing device might be a Zombie node. While you’re composing your next scene, your device is lurching through cyberspace.
How do you stop this lurch into the malware zone?
The single best defense is self-control. One thing zombies do not have.
In the words of a favorite fictional character of mine; “Let me ‘splain.”
The soft spot of any mechanical or technical system is the human element. Social engineering is a con that manipulates the mark (slang for the intended victim) to extract something from them that they would not otherwise relinquish. Posers and pretenders.
Watch the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” for a lesson.
You’re susceptible because the social networking temptation is to throw your virtual arms around each other and kick it up. Camaraderie and curiosity trump self-control.
And here’s the crazy part. You already know the con’s secret because it’s in your stories. You make this stuff up all the time. As a writer, you’re tweaking the nose of your readers to get them to give up time otherwise invested, to read your book!
Your defense then is a wee bit of reverse psychology. You need to dis-engage. Get used to “no”.
1. Remember that web link that was winking at you? DON’T click the beastie-even if it purports to come from Matthew, Mark, Luke AND John.
2. How about the invite to play a new Facebook game called “Fan-tag-ya”? Guaranteed to win you readers. NOT! Now you’re “it” alright.
3. You just installed an irresistible new app to your smart device called, “Sarcastic Cats.” Just remember, you’ve got one life, they’ve got nine.
4. But that email studded with linkie winkies came from your crit partners! Here’s the thing. They’re likely infected and the missive is going to everyone in their contacts list. DELETE IT!
5. DECLINE the invite to play an online game. Shouldn’t you be writing anyway? And no, I’m not concerned that a virtual tornado just decimated your beet crop. Doorways to intrusion.
6. Ronald Reagan used to say, “Trust but verify.” Check with that friend who sent you the email to verify they intentionally shared it.
7. And that whole changing your password dance? A Band-Aid. The damage may be far deeper than the superficial wound. Practice safe computing instead. Be aware to be prepared.
In a world where the alphabet begins with Z and ends with A, Dean blinks as the grocer’s fluorescent light reflects off the tin can as it arcs through that air. It’s not every day you see a member of the VZAA-Vegan Zombie Amish Army. He hits the delete key.?
David Fry is a reluctant geek who teaches college students to be resourceful and responsible with technology. He turned his blog and web page over to Zombies while he edits two suspense driven novels and contemplates e-publishing vs. traditional. His five kids and wife continue to interrupt. They’ve been warned. You can reach David at frywords at gmail dot com.
You mean they weren’t really saying bad things about me on Twitter? And they really didn’t have those photos?
Thanks David for good, sound advice!