Now THAT’S a Breach in Security!

Now THAT'S a Breach in Security
So then…I scoop more corn on their plates and triumphantly finish my lecture about online safety with this reassuring conclusion, “So remember, NEVER EVER share ANY personal information online, no matter HOW innocent or insignificant it might be — because cyber criminals have A LOT of time on their hands to troll the internet, piecing together all the details about you and where you live. And you don’t want the criminals to (ominous voice) KNOW.WHERE.YOU.LIVE, right?”

Chloe, age 8, stares at me, solemn and bug-eyed, no doubt in fear of the afore-mentioned crafty criminals.

Tucker, age 11, nods his head emphatically and says, “Of course, Mom, they tell us about that at school too. You should never talk about going on vacation on Facebook or anything ‘cuz then the robbers will know when to come to your house and steal your stuff.”

Now Chloe stares at him, solemn and bug-eyed.

“That’s right, Tucker, you can never be too careful.” I say. “That’s why we don’t even print your names on your backpacks or shirts because then someone could call out your name and pretend they know you.”

“Right,” he says. “And NEVER get in a van with a man who says he needs help finding a puppy!”

Yep, that’s right, he even knows about pedophiles.

And ever since Tucker received an email address, I’ve been drilling it into his head never to share ANY identifying information online.

Cut to – a week later…

I open an email from Tucker that he’s forwarded to me and some of his pals that invites us to play a fun game someone sent him called “Favorites of Your Favorite Friends!”

It starts out innocently enough asking your favorite TV show, band, sports team, breakfast food…
Then asks things like your favorite burger place, elementary school, grade, town, state…

It practically asks what time your parents are out running an errand and you’re all by yourself in your big empty house!!

And of course Tucker has enthusiastically answered all these questions and forwarded them to all his email contacts – so they can answer the questions and forward the game to all their email contacts!

“Tucker! Come in here, please!”

He lopes in and I show him the screen.

“Tucker! Didn’t we just have a discussion about how you never give out any identifying information about yourself online?”

He says, “Oh, yeah. But this is just about your favorite things so you can see if your friends have the same favorites you do.”

“Tucker, you listed the town and state where you live, what school you attend, what grade you’re in, the nearest burger place, hair color, eye color! This is IDENTIFYING information!”

“Oh, yeaaaaah,” he says, realizing his error. “But I didn’t think this was from a bad guy; it just looks like a game.

Exactly, Tucker! What did you expect? That you’d get an email from someone saying:
‘Dear Kid,
Hi my name is Paul.
I am a pedophile.
Please send me your identifying information.
Sincerely, Paul (you know — Paul the Pedophile)’”

Tucker laughs.

I continue, “Good Lord, son, of course the criminals are going to figure out clever ways to get info about you! They’ll disguise it as a game — or make it look official — or whatever they think will get you to spill the beans! So when you get a survey like this, you don’t answer it and you don’t forward it! Are we clear?”

“Yes, yes, we’re clear!” he says. He walks out, chuckling and murmuring “Paul the Pedophile.”

Honestly, this kid! It’s a wonder he doesn’t come home with magic beans or a deed to swampland.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do YOUR kids SEEM like they listen to your lectures, then do the exact opposite? Any funny examples when your kids seemed to miss the point — or interpret you too literally? Any accidental breaches in online security at YOUR house? Do tell in the Comments section!)
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46 replies on “Now THAT’S a Breach in Security!

  1. AinOakPark said:

    Well, I thought we’d had “the talk” – but my youngest thought she might get pregnant from saying the word “f**k” in an email to someone…and this was before she’d even had her first period. Sheesh! Time for a little remedial action there!

    • HA! So funny — where do they get those ideas!?
      When I was in middle school, my friend Deanne thought she was pregnant because she kissed a boy once while sitting on a bed!
      Time for a science lesson!

  2. Lynn N. said:

    I don’t have children, but my mother loves to tell anyone who will listen about my first lecture on avoiding drugs. A D.A.R.E. officer came and gave a speech about drugs being bad to my kindergarten class. There were cartoon pictures of people doing drugs and drinking. I interpreted the image like any 5 yr. old would and announced to my class, teacher, and the police officer that my parents did drugs.

    My parents (who rarely drank) had decided to have a beer after I fell asleep one night. I woke up from a bad dream and saw them.

    25 years later and I’m still hearing about it.

    • Ha! Way to rat your parents out to the cops!! That’s so funny!

  3. Joy said:

    Our (now 16 year old) daughter HATES it when I tell this story. So of course I have to!

    About 10 years ago, a registered sex offender moved near her elementary school-a fairly remote school, deep in the woods. Her dad and I sat her down and had the stranger-danger talk. She gave all the right answers to the post-discussion questioning. No taking candy from strangers, no getting rides with people she didn’t know, no wandering off by herself.

    Right up until we asked what she would do if a stranger came out of the woods by the playground with an empty leash in his hand, asking for help finding his “lost puppy”. She didn’t understand so we said “Would you go into the woods with him alone or would you run and get help?” Her emphatic and immediate reply “I’d run right off and tell someone” gave us the warm fuzzies.

    Right up until she continued. “Because there is NO WAY we are finding that puppy all by ourselves.” Point missed.

    • LOL!! Literally laughed out loud at that last line! That’s hilarious!! A perfect example of our kids COMPLETELY missing the point! So funny!

  4. Julie said:

    It is harder than ever now. When I was little we learned about Stranger Danger. The internet didn’t exist, and it certainly can be a much more dangerous place than the town I grew up in. (Although one of Gacy’s victims was from my home town) My daughter would ‘chat’ when we first got the computer and would pretend to be older so people would take her seriously. I nearly had a heart attack, and tried to explain that she could be inviting trouble without realizing it. Fortunately she is a really good girl and stopped.

    Happy New Year Darcy! So glad I have found you!

    • Thank goodness you explained it to her in a way that she agreed to stop! Sometimes kids feel like nothing bad can happen!
      And Happy New Year to you too, Julie! Thanks for all the great comments on the stories!

      • Paul said:

        Did you really have to use that name? There weren’t enough possible choices out there? Sheeesh.

          • Paul said:

            Apology accepted Darcy the NOT Deviant.

          • LOL! Actually, the “NOT” is optional.

  5. Yow! That’s kinda scary. There was an ad run a while ago here, aimed at parents “Do you know your kid’s favourite band? Or favourite food? Or favourite colour? Or the person they’d like to date? Or what they want to be when they grow up? Because a pedophile will…” Chilling. And true. I’ve known a family it happened to… So glad you were on top of this for your son.
    Considerer recently posted..The Acorn ResolutionMy Profile

    • Yep, gotta stay on top of all that security stuff!

  6. Wow. That’s really freaking creepy– though I do remember doing similar chain letter things when I was his age and the internet was an exciting new invention.

    Why is the world full of such scary people?!

    • Omigosh, I had forgotten all about old-fashioned chain letters that you would send by mail! That’s so funny! We received a few of those when I was a kid! Never did win a fortune though!

  7. Oh my. When I think about some of the surveys, and other dangerous stuff I was doing online in my teen years, I have to wonder that I wasn’t murdered in my living room on a Wednesday afternoon while my parents were away at work. Scary.
    Tracie recently posted..I Read 101 Books In 2013My Profile

    • Exactly — those surveys really ask lots of personal stuff!

  8. Hi Darcy….as always a funny post. Is it wrong to send my dog out the door with his phone number written across his collar, just in case he fucks up?

    • Ha! When you say “his phone number,” do you mean that your dog has his OWN phone number? Like a canine Iphone? Lucky dog! :o)

  9. Thankfully my son isn’t at that age, however, when he is, we’ll prep him well :) My boyfriend works in network security so he’ll have fun showing my son what NOT to do :) I’m sure your son learned his lesson. Hope you had a great New Years! Happy 2014! -Iva

    • I bet your boyfriend knows lots of great stuff about online security! Happy New Year’s Eve too, Iva!

  10. Paul said:

    When AwesomelyOZ commented about her boyfriend being in network security, I recalled this story that I just had to share (I may or may not have been involved – I plead the fifth). It totally demonstrates how easy it is to fool anyone with e-mail and a bit of information. At the time I was working as a Business Analyst in the IT dept of a large retail chain (5,000 employees) that had its own programmers and Network specialists. One Friday evening we were all (the IT guys) out having a beer, when a young woman approached our IT security guy. He could, upon occasion be a pain in the butt at work because he was ever vigilant in his pursuit of security although he was, personally, a very shy guy that women found quite attractive. He also had a permanent girlfriend (who was not with us that evening). John (not his real name), spent some time chatting with the young woman (Francis) at the bar and we overheard some of the conversation – including her name. Those evil-minded programmers came up with a scheme to get even with John for his continual pestering about security. The following Monday, they created an e-mail account on a public server using Francis’ name and sent poor John an e-mail pretending to be the young woman just following up and looking for a date. Of course they knew enough info from their eavesdropping to convince John that he was actually e-mailing Francis. Now, to his credit, John would not set up a date with her, but neither would he give up their e-mail exchange. The programmers (as Francis) began e-mailing him daily and got more and more lurid in their comments. Their e-mails and his responses were shared between everyone in on the joke. Poor John was having a hard time ignoring Francis’ obvious come-ons and she ignored every effort that he made to keep the conversation just friendly. It was in desperation to straighten her “misconception” that he agreed to meet her for “just a friendly conversation” at a nearby bar two weeks after the charade started. He was just too much of a good guy to tell her by e-mail to quit talking dirty to him by e-mail.

    Naturally, when he showed up for his rendezvous with Francis, the whole IT department was waiting for him and offered him a free beer to compensate for his loss and repay him for the two weeks of torment and amusement. His realization was absolutely mind blowing and some of the guys were laughing so hard they were literally rolling on the floor (they could be a rather demonstrative bunch). We never let him forget that episode – “security is critical”.

    • That is so funny — and so brutal! It reminds me of my friend Kathy, whose husband is a firefighter that frequently bought lottery tickets with the rest of the firehouse. One night, he and his buddies recorded the lottery number announcement, then a week later, they bought a lottery ticket with those same numbers and gave THAT one to their captain. They set up the recording to play just as the captain was walking in, so he thought he won over $200,000. He was so excited — and they all DIED laughing! So funny and so brutal!! Those IT guys and firefighters are hardcore pranksters! Around here, the most exciting prank is substituting salt for the sugar! And that’s about all I can handle!

  11. My daughter spends a lot of time saying, “I’m sorry dad” or “I’m sorry mom.” I think she’s got the whole it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission thing down. Is 10 too late to start spanking?

    On a more serious note, I took a training course not long ago and the instructor showed us some signs to look for to recognize online child predators and their chat rooms and such. She joined a room as something like Jenny1999 and it took all of about 12 seconds for her to be propositioned to meet! We begged her to have the guy come to our location so we could beat his ass, but it was not to be with her. Pfffft to scruples.
    donofalltrades recently posted..Eh, it’s a late to the party post mostly about 2014 goals.My Profile

      • Paul said:

        Yikes, Darcy, be careful. I think Donofalltrades carries a gun for a living!

        • LOL! He does! But he’s a sworn peace officer — so we’re all safe! :o)

  12. I, too, cracked up at Paul the Pedophile. Priceless. My daughter is 17 now, but I recently found a journal I kept during her first 6 years. I have a tendency to not just make a point, but go on and on until it becomes an unwelcome lecture. Apparently I’ve been doing this from early on, because I found an entry from when she was two. She had apparently thrown something at me when I was driving, thinking she was funny. And I apparently went on and on about how that was a dangerous thing to do and that you never, EVER throw something at a driver, because you could cause an accident. I must have went on just a little too long, because she apparently responded, “Be quiet. You’re giving me a headache!”

    Recently, incidentally, I bought my daughter a new kind of deodorant — a clear gel. I told her it’s great, because it doesn’t get white residue on your clothing, then proceeded to tell her that it has a tendency to ooze and to dial it backwards a few notches, so it doesn’t do that. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Enough mom. I don’t need your deodorant wisdom.”
    Parri (Her Royal Thighness) recently posted..It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like ProzacMy Profile

    • Ha!
      Of course she needs your deodorant wisdom! And your oregano wisdom. And your eyeliner wisdom. And your turkey wisdom. She needs ALL your wisdom! SHE is the one who should be keeping a journal — or all your amazing wisdom! And so should MY kids! I am going to start recording my lectures — they are brilliant! Brilliant, I tell you!!

  13. This is so true – about 2 years ago I was explaining this same thing to my daughter who was beginning to understand the internet.

    Being the miss goody two shoes she is, she immediately said we need to make a video to warn others about this

    • Yikes! That is a SPOOKY video! And so awesome! Really gets the point across quickly and EMPHATICALLY!
      Is that your daughter in the clip? That little girl is adorable!

  14. William Kendall said:

    Tucker, Tucker, Tucker….

    That is a facepalm moment for sure.

  15. Belle of the Ball said:

    The first time I left my then 11 year old daughter at the house alone for a few minutes we, of course, had the serious talk about not opening the door to strangers. I came home to find a package on the table; she had opened the door and signed for a delivery. When I freaked out she explained she didn’t think I meant the UPS man. HUH???

    • Face palm! I guess future instructions should be: do not open the door, period. Don’t open the door; don’t touch the door; don’t look at the door; don’t even SMELL the door! :o)

      • Belle of the Ball said:

        She survived childhood, but I still don’t want her to open the door to strangers.

        • I agree! I don’t even want to open the door to strangers!