California author, family man and internet forensics expert, Travis Morgan, has provided one of the greatest services possible to virtually anyone who owns a computer. This book, "Catch Me If You Know How" is an impressively detailed and fully thorough look at all the many technical aspects and issues of internet security and safety for individual users, partners, and families. It is also a very astute behavioural guide for recognizing the subtle signs of possible internet abuse, misuse, addiction and inappropriate habits. So it is both a clearly worded and easy to understand guide of virtually every technical issue and subject that needs to be understood, AND it is a beautifully moral guide, without reactionary judgements, on how to handle the very HUMAN aspect of internet usage - and possible 'mis-usage'. For despite all the intricate technicalities and apparent coldness of the 'computer' medium, 'internet life' is still a life that is lived by very human beings.
Morgan began this work of passion and love back in 2005. He finally finished it last year, in 2011. It has been updated dozens of times throughout its writing and he has taken on the responsibility to keeping it up to date and current at all times. His dedication to helping people who own computers everywhere and ending the horrific amounts of child exploitation, the loss of privacy and its concomitant disasters, internet and pornographic addiction and ruined human relationships of many kinds is highly laudatory and admirable. He's coming from the right place.
Throughout this detailed book, he constantly balances relentlessly specific monitoring techniques for discovering possible internet abuse with the highly important, even paramount, need to act with calm, clarity and cool-headed reservation, should the possibility arise that someone in your life may be mis-using the internet in some way. He emphasizes the need to avoid condemning and reactive behaviour, both legally and personally. BE SURE, he tells us. BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. Then he tells us exactly, in plain language that is understandable by anyone, just how to go about addressing one's concerns with the suspected party. This is very useful information and insight for employers, life partners and parents.
There are 8 chapters to "Catch Me.." With each successive one Morgan deals with the various areas on your computer and lays out the technics of monitoring and surveying another person's internet activity. Each of these are clearly and directly laid out - Social Media, Cookies and Caches, Favourites & Bookmarks, Stealth Modes, Monitoring and Access Control, Mobile Devices, File Sharing, moral, personal and legal issues as well. He minces no words and yet is remarkably clear and economic in his language. This is a book for the average citizen who is not necessarily entirely computer savy and it is also detailed and in-depth enough to be of tremendous help to those of experience as well. Each section is clearly illustrated with easy to understand screenshots from both Mac and PC platforms, which is a real boon. So you know where to put your cursor and in what field, and where to click. I have been a computer user for many years and I learned more from this book than just about any source I've read on the subject. Morgan's skill as a communicator of complex and possibly intimidating information is exemplary. This man is a true Educator.
Who hasn't, at some point in their online lives, not stumbled across something they didn't want to see? Some of us have been sent links by friends to 'humourous' material only to have shocking pop-ups appear. Some have even been sent morally reprehensible material, like child pornography, by malicious third parties, due to insecure information privacy and hacking. One fellow I know of suffered 3 years of being treated as guilty just for receiving, AND NOT EVEN OPENING, a link to a child porn site. Someone he didn't even know sent him the link in an email, which he quickly deleted and he is now registered as a possible pedophile !!! Online life can get THAT dicey, THAT dangerous and it is PARAMOUNT to understand, as an individual and as a family person, just what to look for and how to protect yourself. One might respond, " I live a simple, clean, very proper life why should I worry?" I think of the man mentioned above. CHILDREN are victims of predators, you can be too.
Bottom line, barring purely malicious intent on the part of others, Morgan explains that there are only 3 ways to land on a website that has inappropriate material within:
1.) Someone sends you a link and you click on it - by choice.
2.) You visit a site and you click on it - by choice.
3.) You consciously go and search for it yourself - by choice.
Innocent human curiosity is not ruled out by the author either, but a non-judgemental presentation of the very real dangers of such 'curiosity' can be rather frightening. Recounting an incident from his own personal experience, Morgan recounts how he was once sent a link that offered a another link to similar material. Without thinking he followed it and finally ended up seeing horrific imagery that he says has burned itself into his memory for years and will not leave. THAT is the issue with depraved, extreme images and content online, once you see them, you never forget them. That results in a kind of 'rape' of the mind. Now imagine a small child coming across bestiality, child pornography or 'snuff' material - images or video footage of someone actually being murdered or brutally savaged ........... It is an unthinkable horror, and yet it happens all the time. Morgan wants to stop this and reading this book and following his advice is probably the best thing on the market to teach you how to do so.
For parents and even spouses, the author provides the reader with a number of clues to possible internet mis-uses. They are both behavioural and technical. Looking at the person's "History", "Caches", "Coded or Rhyming Alternate Names for Files", "Multiple Screen Identities", "Using a rarely used Browser" etc can all provide the concerned party with information enough to reach a conclusion of misuse, but, as usual, Morgan points out, it is paramount to be CERTAIN. He cautions that laws vary from region to region and that it is very important to understand them before launching into any course of action. Keep a cool head, get your facts straight and know your stuff beyond the shadow of any doubt, he says. Another KEY point is that often people will delete their history and so on, for the purposes of maintaining absolute privacy in their online affairs, such as banking. Doing so reduces the chances of personal information winding up in the hands of complete and utter, and not necessarily moral, strangers. So again, CERTAINTY and proof is absolutely necesary. When in doubt he advises us, seek the advice of a PROFESSIONAL COMPUTER FORENSICS EXPERT. And whatever you do, do not respond to inappropriate content in the same medium where inadmissible evidence can actually set your predator free
One of the most interesting and probably the most relevant to parents of children and teens today is the subject of Facebook. What parent has not been concerned about some aspect of their children's use of social media? Even if it's only the addiction to it, still the form, seemingly a necessity for social acceptance in the young, has MANY seriously dangerous potentials for exploitation, bulllying and serious abuse. No judgement is made of Facebook or Twitter etc, but all of the many, largely, unsuspected potentials for SERIOUS trouble and danger nevertheless exist. It is prudent and proactive for parents to understand what they may be. Morgan simply and directly covers them all and makes it very easy for a parent to become Facebook savy - thus markedly decreasing something very unfortunate happening to their children. His technical and emotional advice is clear and compassionate. In fact, compassion, is the basis of this book and it is braced and defended by an expert's knowledge on how to best protect yourself and your loved ones. Morgan also invites his readers to get in touch with him by email, to share their stories and issues with him. This is what he does, it is not a sideshow in his life.
"Catch Me If You Know How" ends with an extensive glossary of terms so that you can learn all the 'lingo' that you need to get yourself right up to speed. There are also suggestions for other online sources of computer-social media-smartphone definitions of the 'speak'. Travis Morgan's book is so completely thorough and exhaustive you are armed with virtually everything you and yet it makes for easily understood reading. I can't imagine a better book on the subject.