My wife and I are just now finishing “Dexter”, a television series about a serial killer with a code of ethics. His “code” is pretty simple: Don’t get caught and only kill killers. The series takes place in Miami, and, like many other television shows, you need to suspend your disbelief a little bit at times because the situations under which people get caught by Dexter are not exactly based in reality. Also, by my count, Miami has a murder rate that dwarfs any other American city in this show.
One of the ways that Dexter catches his prey is by hacking into their computers at home and at work. Sure, a password could be helpful, but it has to be a strong password. Even then, Dexter’s “superior intellect” would allow him to guess the passwords based on the person’s life. So don’t go putting your pet’s name as a password for something very personal, like your email. And always make sure that it is a complex password that includes letters, numbers and special characters. Oh, and none of that replacing numbers for letters, like “4” instead of “A” or “3” instead of “E”.
To make your passwords even safer, I recommend an encryption system like LastPass or KeePass. If you’re using a Mac computer along with an iPhone or iPad, Apple offers a password manager “baked” into their operating systems. Any of these options beat writing down your passwords only to have Dexter find them and use them to find you… And slice and dice you.
Dexter also follows his victims and then sneaks up to them from behind, injects them with a sedative, and then takes them away to his “kill rooms.” If you’re alone, always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t talk into your phone while you’re walking alone and in a place where there are not a lot of other people. You can be just as distracted as those fools who crash while talking on the phone.
You won’t only get your phone taken from you and smashed into the floor. You’ll have it taken and you hurt. So always walk with a partner, don’t talk on the phone, and be aware of your surroundings. This is not about blaming the victim. It’s about common sense you can do to protect yourself from predators… And from psychopaths who want you in separate plastic bags and out to the ocean. (He’d have to use some Hefty bags for me, to be honest.)
Finally, follow the old adage that, if you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t do it. Plenty of Dexter’s targets did things that gave them a criminal record. Or, if their indiscretions were not criminal, they would end up in a news article. In these days of social media, you probably can’t escape your digital trail. Even if you do, don’t make a big fuss about it, or you’ll find out all about the Streisand Effect, brining too much attention your way.
Of course, Dexter only killed people who deserved it (and a couple of innocent bystanders here and there). You’re a good person. You read this blog.
But, just in case, change your password.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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