14 September 2009

Random Thoughts - Stalking

Throughout the day I have many different random thoughts, most of which are pretty geeky ideas, but ever once in a while I have a thought that is so completely random, its intricacies surprise - and frighten - me. These ideas especially come when I'm already tired, and since its about 11:15pm as I write this, it is no wonder why something like this popped into my head.
A lot of people already know that it can be quite simple to locate an individual person and their physical location on the Internet. In fact, inadvertently, new tools and technologies are making it even easier to locate people all across the globe - and GPS was only the beginning. I recently came across this video where an app for Android phones called Layar gave people the ability to see tweets and other bits of information layered on the video feed from the device's camera so you could see who said what and where. Its quite impressive, and as the video showed, they stumbled on where Brad Pitt was enjoying a drink. It gives new meaning to the word "cyberstalking."
But then there is the more traditional means of stalking. For many, adding a layer of anonymity by publishing and utilizing only a P.O. Box address makes things a little more difficult, but not impossible. In fact, its quite a bit easier than I originally thought, but requires a little patience. All it requires is for you to find box address, find the actual box, and if that box is near a window (like it is at my post office), then all you have to do is wait in the parking lot for somebody to open that box, then follow them to wherever they go. Or, for the more enterprising individuals, using a high-resolution hidden camera can observe for you where you can be a good distance away.
Unfortunately, this security hole is due to the fact that the United States Postal Service can not always deal with the security for its patrons to the utmost ability of some other businesses. Also, lack of observance and parking code enforcement add to this issue. Its quite a tricky situation, and some post offices are designed in such a way that these simple steps are still difficult to carry out, but for others, it may be very easy.
Yes, these are the incoherent thoughts that I have at late night hours such as these. As a computer programmer, looking for different ways around a problem are always on my mind. Unfortunately, those alternate solutions are not always about computer problems. I've often told other people that my ideas could land me a job as a security consultant, but other times could make me an innocent suspect.

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