Have you ever heard of the Video Game World Championship? There is such a thing and I had to cover for a buddy of mine during one. Thankfully my role was behind the scenes and I didn’t have to attend. My thing was to be the interface between a big time game company and the “tournament” folks. Intel wanted to show off the latest, hottest gaming rig they could come up with a not yet released “next” big game. I dealt with the VP of the game company and the internal Intel folks. What we had at the show was a special build specifically created for this one purpose. How did I know that? It had our internal guy’s name and cell phone number in the upper right corner of the screen. Nice! Well, someone attending the tournament videotaped (over the shoulder of the person playing) the screen as the demo of the game was played. He then posted it on the web for all to see. The VP of the gaming company came back to me saying Intel had leaked the game and people were playing it “in the wild”. We went back and forth and he showed me that it was definitively the Intel build. We (Intel) determined it was a video of the screen while someone was playing and not a screen capture. The game company demanded we find out who was the responsible party. Rather than go through a lot of red tape at Intel, the easiest way for me to track down the culprit was to enlist my son’s help. He was a Systems Administrator at a small company. I called him and asked how I could track the guilty party down. The answer was pretty simple. DOS had a routine named Trace. All we had to do was get a copy of the video's IP address on the internet and run a Trace on it. By then there were several repostings of the video. The Trace routine could track the address through however many servicers it went through and get back to the original source. Tracking about three repostings of the video all lead back to a specific MAC address. (A MAC address is the id of the network interface adaptor of a computer to the outside world.) From there we tracked down the street address there the computer was located. With the street address we found out the address was owned by a doctor and his wife. With the last name we cross referenced the attendee list of the tournament and matched an attendee to the doctor’s address. It was the doctor’s son who attended the show. I gave the kid’s name and address to the game company’s VP and told him he could pursue it to whatever extent he wanted. I could almost hear his jaw hit the floor when heard the amount of data we had been able to come up with. The trick is??? It was all done within a half hour by a system administrator at a small company and a peddler from Intel. Not the Intel IT department, not the NSA, or CIA, or FBI, or other big time cyber sleuths. Just two guys.
Do you have a credit card? It has a magnetic strip on the back of it doesn’t it. You probably wouldn’t believe the amount of information contained on the little strip. Want to check? Go to one of the credit card companies offering to consolidate your credit cards. With just a little bit of information from you, they will come back (instantly – well almost – it’ll be while you’re still on the website) with every credit card you have and how much you owe on each one. They’ll ask you to check off which cards you want to merge onto the new card you’ll be getting from them.
So, anyone shocked by the “news” that the NSA is checking your phone records must be just crawling out from under a rock somewhere. You want privacy? Get off the grid. Pay for everything cash. Stuff your extra money in your mattress. Don’t own a home. Don’t drive a car.
In other words, the only people with any privacy are those we all look down on. The bum living in a tent, panhandling for money has some degree of privacy. The rest of us? Not so much.