Security For You and Your Writing ( In an Insecure World)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I'm not the kind of person who generally worries about security or fraud. I always think, That will never happen to me. I listen to authors who are afraid their work will be stolen when they send it in and wonder how I can get that kind of confidence. They are basically saying, "My work is so good, people will want to steal it and claim it as their own." WOW! That's a statement. I know this kind of stuff does happen, but as I said--not to me. 

But then. . . the other morning, I got up at 5:00 a.m. to write; and instead of writing, I spent my time dealing with an iTunes mess. Someone used my iTunes account to purchase $80 worth of video game crud. My iTunes was connected to my PayPal, and there weren't enough funds in my PayPal, so my back-up method was used to charge these items. I was LIVID. I was SICK. And I was basically watching it happen right in front of my eyes because the person just happened to be hacked into my account, while I was also on the computer. He/she had changed my address to theirs and my security question and my password. LUCKILY, everything worked out--I was reimbursed almost immediately, and now NO payment method is connected to my iTunes. (By the way, I suggest if you have an iTunes account, that you do this immediately--have nothing or an iTunes card with a low balance connected to your account--lots of people are a victim of this iTunes/PayPal fraud right now.)

Then I read an interview with a screenwriter (that will be published in the next issue of WOW!). In the article, she discusses how to protect your screenplay or play with the U.S. Copyright Office before you are submitting it. I never really thought that was important until what happened to me the other morning. Once you've had anything stolen--money, words, Facebook password, ideas--you become skeptical--and maybe that is a good thing for me.  I have changed my passwords to all my accounts and made them more secure with capital letters and numbers. I have checked my privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, and my e-mail accounts. I will make a note to be careful of the  kind of information I post on my blog. I will consider registering manuscripts with the copyright office, depending on what it is and where I am sending it. 

Basically, I plan to be more secure in my writing life and personal life--and especially my social networking life. When I teach the social networking class for WOW! (starting September 14) , I always bring up ways to protect your privacy with social media, and I plan to do even more of this now. 

How do you make sure your writing and personal lives are secure in an insecure world? Any tips to share? 

Post by Margo L. Dill
photo by Sh4rp_i


Karen Wojcik Berner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamara Marnell said...

Working in IT for my day job, and living with a computer scientist, I am intimately familiar with multiple ways to steal a person's identity. Hacking is a lot easier, and hackers are a lot more ubiquitous, than people believe. You should always use different passwords for everything. If that's too difficult, at least create a tiered password system, so the simple ones go on easy targets like Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are bound to be compromised eventually, while the more complicated ones are on your credit cards etc.

Also, make sure your wireless Internet at home is encrypted. Avoid logging into ANYTHING sensitive from a public computer if you can help it. The library, your workplace, or your school may seem safe, but keyloggers and sniffers are everywhere. Change your passwords frequently, check your bank and PayPal statements regularly, and always use credit online, not debit. You can dispute charges through Chase or B of A, but once they get access to your checking account, it's over.

Margo Dill said...

Great tips! Thank you for sharing. Although I have to say, now I am even more scared to death. . .:)


Unknown said...

As a multi-victim of identity theft, I say the more secure- the better. Play it smart, especially on the web where things are always out there floating around.

No need to be scared to death, but being a little paranoid about your privacy is a useful thing.

A note about copyrights on MS's though... I think, if I understood right, as long as you have an original, unopened MS either snail mailed to your home or by e-mail with an origination date (to prove you wrote it way back when) it's automatically protected. The trouble is tracking it down once it's out there.

Margo Dill said...

I have always heard with copyright that it is your copyright as soon as you write it down. You don't have to register it in order to claim it is yours. But I guess it is the proving or protecting-it-is-actually-yours part that the U.S. Copyright office helps you protect. And in the case I was talking about in my post, the writer was dealing with screenplays, which I think are a whole different ballgame. :) (And I know nothing about!)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Yes, it's my understanding that writing it gives you copyright, but in order to prove it if a dispute should arise, you will need evidence. Mailing it to yourself is one way. A friend just told me she posts all her new writings to Google docs, which automatically establishes date.

The iTunes thing is scary!

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