A Memory Linked to a Smell and Private Information

I recall one night she confidently declared to a hopeful beau she was a marine biologist.

I am not doing Bloganuary.

In eleven years of blogging, I’ve never participated. This year, I answered one bloganuary prompt. Posting daily is a big commitment, and I have a life outside of blogging. Besides, do readers actually want to hear about my little personal quirks? It is an invitation to give away personal information should I wish to do so.

curiosity surprise bird owl cartoon

Keeping Personal Information Private

Ally Bean discussed how giving out basic details to a health professional could lead to a breach of privacy, and potentially be damaging, should some nefarious individual use that information to assume your identity.

Innocent people fall prey to what has been termed ‘social engineering,’ an act that gains and manipulates information gained legally or illegally. Think of passwords, card numbers, identity documents, and bank or financial details that are disclosed daily to institutions, persons, and commercial sites. Such details could be used to fraudulently make purchases, steal funds, or secure loans.

Identity theft is something our forefathers rarely dealt with.

Or did they?

Celebrity impersonators assume identities. It is nothing new. Granted, the impersonators are often a more improved and perhaps more entertaining version than the original.

Decoys assume the visual appearance of famous people. Think of military or political figures who deem they require protection – think of Hitler, Putin, or North Korea’s Kim Jong. Undercover police and detectives are well-versed in assuming fake personas. Imitating a profession or person has some social benefits.

A work friend, (no names mentioned ensuring privacy), had tremendous fun as a twenty-something conjuring up new professions each time she met someone new at a nightclub. One day she was a colonoscopy nurse, the next a symphony musician and the next a travel consultant.

I recall one evening she confidently declared to a hopeful beau that she was a marine biologist.

To her astonishment, the young male responded that he was also a Marine Biologist and began discussing research grants asking probing questions she could not answer.


How Secure is your Private Information and Social Engineering

Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. [Wiki] It is a way of divulging personal and private information for fraud or to gain access to electronic systems.

An example is the use of the “forgot password” function… An improperly-secured password-recovery system can be used to grant a malicious attacker full access to a user’s account, while the original user will lose access to the account.

Social engineering relies heavily on the six principles of influence established by Robert Cialdini. Cialdini’s theory of influence is based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity.

People will do things that they see other people are doing. [the principle of Social Proof]

For example, in one experiment,one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were missing. At one point this experiment was aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic.

If enough people do it, others will gain confidence to do it themselves. Think of Frank Abagnale and other confidence tricksters of history.

Other methods used by social engineers include pretexting, waterholing, baiting, phishing, fishing, quid pro quo and tailgating. There is even the problem of who is shoulder surfing.

Read about each of these methods here.

Question: Do you check over your shoulder when using a public computer while travelling?

Suddenly there is a whole new level of risk.


And here I was, going to write about a bloganuary post about a memory linked to smell.

But that would be giving too much away, wouldn’t it?

How cautious are you with strangers or disclosing information on your blog?

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17 thoughts on “A Memory Linked to a Smell and Private Information”

  1. A bit. I usually think that anyone who wants to pretend to be me is going to have a not frightfully exciting challenge – like, dealing with all manner of organisations who look after ancients .. [grin]


  2. I think Ally’s post and now yours are good reminders that, as much as we’d love to trust everyone, there are people who spend a lot of time and effort trying to separate us from our money. It’s easy to let our guard down and that’s exactly what “they” are waiting for.

    Oh, and thank you for not participating in Bloganaury. Too many posts makes my head explode.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly don’t want to make your head explode, Janis! But I did contemplate participating in Bloganuary merely for the prompts to trigger a fiction story. But keeping up when you have a busy life is exhausting and I did think that posting every day is great when you don’t have a large following but I certainly don’t want to stress out my readers and sometimes the volumes of weekly digests is stressful. Do you receive blogger updates on your feed immediately or on a weekly digest email basis?


  3. What’s bloganuary? There are prompts to give you ideas about something to post? And people actually do it? What planet does this all happen on? And in the unlikely event that anyone is remotely interested, the smell of washing powder reminds me of my Mum. The smell of pear drops makes me want to vomit. As a travel blogger who posts “live”, everyone knows when we’re not at home. But they don’t know where the house is, or that it’s not empty when we’re away. As for stealing my identity, I can’t imagine anyone would want to be happily retired, travelling the world and living the dream. It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. It may as well be me. Anyway….Bloganuary, Veganuary, Movember, Dry January….what’s next? May Not? Dis(au)gust? Sceptic-ember? Pass me my pills someone…


    1. Oh Phil! The wordpress think tank must be jealous of your ideas and could well adopt them!! I think Dis august and Sceptic ember were the best – hopefully not septic ember! Lol. You are right on this point: A lot of personal writing is merely a prompt to write a much better story post. Memoirs can be braindead boring at times as are some blog posts. I have not found yours to be so but they do exist. They are the ones that recount the week that was – including graphic details (and photos) of their ironing blunders and shopping conquests. 😴 But now I feel a tad pretentious….
      Good to know that you haven’t got enough details on your blog posts for anyone to use your identities and send you broke. It is possible to continue travel blogging! And please do so!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amanda, Ally Bean is correct. Be mindful of sharing information. Often, the provider of services already has the information, so they want it again to verify changes. The better question for security (and accuracy) is to ask are there any changes to your medications, address, insurance company, etc. As for the accuracy, when people have to enter new information it increases the risk of mistakes. Even the provider of information will make mistakes. Keith


    1. Yes providers of services store information they no longer need after verification. There is no incentive to destroy or remove that info so it remains on their system. The rental form is a case in point. They are supposed to delete information once the tenant has been approved for the rental property but few do. This is a minefield of potential identity theft. If you have a rental breach issued, you are on a blacklist for three years and there are fines for the rental managers don’t remove your name after that time, so why not fine them for keeping your data when it is unnecessary. It is a risk.


  5. Thanks for the shoutout. I’m glad that my post contributed to your thinking on the topic of privacy. You know that I am cautious about all that I share online + say in public, but it does make me kind of sad that we need to monitor ourselves almost constantly.

    As for Bloganuary, I’ve never done it either. January is, for me, getting organized in my real life, not jibber-jabbering daily online. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!


    1. Everyone likes your jibber-jabber, Ally! And jibber-jabber is such a fun expression. Not one that hear here, so I assume it is an American idiom. I have certainly heard Americans say it before.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Try to be cautious. At times one is caught unawares especially when you share some info to a question. Later on I regret giving my tel no or email and wait for spams and hacks.


    1. There are so many invitations on emails or ads to give out personal info. Sometimes it is hard not to, especially if you want to buy something online. Registering as a guest is useful.

      Liked by 1 person

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