Flashbangs and Facebook

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Sheepdog-Iconography---Digital-SafetyOn Thursday, June 21st, an 18 year old and her grandmother were relaxing in their living room, watching television, and the young woman was on Facebook, when a SWAT team broke two windows, threw two flashbang grenades into those windows and broke down a storm door to charge into the house. 

Why did this police department feel the necessity to have such a strong entry into this nice Evansville, Indiana home?

Someone had been using the grandmother’s internet access to post specific, credible threats against police officers in Evansville.

To be clear, the family that lives at that location is completely innocent, and has been cleared as suspects in this case. Instead, officers found that someone had logged into the grandmother’s wireless router, which was completely unsecured. This means that anyone sitting outside the home, and possibly even a couple houses away (depending on signal strength) could simply use the grandmother’s internet connection, and anything they did would show as originating from that home.

What do we take away from this? One of the first steps when you set up a new wireless router, or consider allowing others to use your internet connection, is to understand that YOU and YOUR HOUSE will be the listed location if anything criminal happens. Whether it is threats against law enforcement, someone downloading child pornography, or illegal music or videos, the activity will be traced to YOUR HOUSE.

Consider something: If you are charged with illegally downloading music or video, or even with downloading child pornography, it will be up to you to hire the lawyer to defend you, and the digital forensic specialist to prove that you aren’t at fault. These criminal expenses can bankrupt a family easily, and then you may have to defend yourself civilly. And that doesn’t even begin to correct your tarnished reputation.

So how do you stop this? It’s actually very simple – secure your WiFi router with a strong password, and don’t let anyone who you don’t know and trust access to your internet. This may include your children’s friends and their internet devices, or even your own friends, and their devices. The key to a strong password is using a good encryption protocol (WPA instead of WEP), a good encryption type (AES instead of TKIP), and a very strong, unguessable password.

What makes a strong router password?

  • Have a long password (at least 15-20 characters – more is better).
  • Do not use words. Instead, use letters, numbers, upper and lower-case, and even symbols.
  • Do not give the password to anyone. If someone needs access – you enter it on their machine.

If all of this sounds like techno-babble or geek-speak, and you don’t know what a “router” is, then get someone to do it for you. If you have a relative that can do it competently, then have them do it. If not, hire someone to do it. One word of caution: I don’t usually recommend having your kids set up your security. Not only does this provide the way around the security functions, it also allows them to give the password out to all their friends, removing your oversight. We’ll talk about this in a future article.

As always, stay safe, stand strong, and keep watch. Unleash your inner Sheepdog.

The original article can be found here:

http://www.14news.com/story/18854572/epd-swat-team-flashbangs-house-related-to-threats-against-epd-families

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