Who Knows You?

Plus every time I post another story or bit of journalistic prose onto this thing called the Web, I wonder what, exactly I'm exposing myself to.

I had a better sense of exactly vulnerable we all are this week as I sat and listened in awe during CA World in Las Vegas to Frank Abagnale, the brilliant identity thief who once impersonated a Pan Am co-pilot and a pediatrician, at an age at which today's teenagers are thinking about downloading their next iPod tune. For the past several decades, Abagnale has focused his knowledge of the criminal mind on helping law-enforcement officials nail identity thieves.

I was late to his session, but by the time I sat down, the audience was already hushed, as Abagnale recounted the thought processes behind some of his flagrant disregard for the law.

For my news story on Agagnale's talk click here.

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I can honestly say that Abagnale's keynote was the first speech I've ever attended at an industry event that made me cry. It doesn't take much for me, certainly, but comments about work-life balance always go over well in the computer industrt. I wasn't the only one to succumb to tears in my general vicinity. And, then, he really turned on the heat.

That's because, according to Abagnale, once every 57 seconds, someone's identity is ripped off. Pretty scary, huh?

When I think of all the weird e-mails I've received -- as well as my own encounter with credit card fraud -- it definitely gives me pause. But my livelihood depends on my ability to communicate. Aye, there's the rub.

One of the most compelling trains of though in the speech was Abagnale's comments about how na%EFve most of us are about sharing data. I certainly am.

But I also think a lot about the flip side. I once called my health insurance company to straighten out a bill for my husband but was prevented from handling it because I clearly wasn't him. Good or bad, you decide.

Speaking of married life, I'll be away for the next week scuba diving in Bonaire. Now let's see how many weird spam messages I get. Back to you again in early June. Blogs and vacations don't mix for me.