Cyber Crime Digital Image

Background Checks

I was filming near Ipswich last week, at the BT site (or the part of it that deals with Cyber defence). They’re not too keen on having cameras around, understandably. Not allowed to film entrance doors (presumably so one doesn’t catch security codes), or name badges. And you have to have someone with you, at all times, with a filming pass.

I can’t show you anything, I’m afraid. Not even sure I can tell you the stories about cyber criminals (and the people counteracting them). But everything I heard simply backed up what I (all of us) already know. Namely, we are living in an incredibly public world.

Simply being there, and hearing what is possible these days, confirmed my luddite concerns about social media, or even sending emails. It has always been my policy to keep a low profile on the internet. I am amazed at how much information people freely give away.

A few days after my visit (though I am not suggesting there is a connection), my wife received a phone call from someone who claimed to be an officer from the local police station. Her first thought was, ‘What have the kids been up to?’ but when they told her it concerned her credit card, she was suddenly less tense.

Apparently, they had arrested someone who had been using a copy of her card and they simply wanted her to confirm her card number (and then her security number). Somehow, she spooked them into putting the phone down. She rang the local police and they said it was very common. I asked her if she’d called the local police on the same phone. She had. There is a possibility the criminals kept the line open and she was still talking to them. It became rather complex – were we talking to the real police or someone pretending to be the police? They said they were real (I guess the criminals would say they weren’t real). They said they would send an officer round.

A policeman turned up a couple of days later. We asked for his ID (could have been a hired uniform). Of course, we knew he was genuine, but the entire experience shows me how blurred the boundaries are between the criminals and the people the criminals are impersonating.

You have to be so careful about what you commit to film. I checked out a local filmmaker I’d met. I was quite amazed at how much I could find out about him in a short space of time. If I was a criminal, he’d as good as given me an open invitation to burgle him. On his Facebook page (open to all, not just ‘friends’) he had a video he’d shot at Christmas. He gave me a tour of the house. I knew what camera he’d shot on, I knew his address, the fact he had a young daughter, he had a giant TV… anything I’d want to break in to steal, I knew where it was! He even put dates he’d be away from home.

I have worked on both sides of the camera but, as far as security goes, working behind the lens is considerably safer.

I’m not suggesting you don’t make films (In fact, I think you should make films with me) but I am suggesting you should be very aware of who could see your film and how much information you want them to have. Always check what is in the background.