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The Image Of Things To Come

January 4, 2016

I had a dilemma. How do you wrap a four cubic foot footlocker? I could simply throw a blanket over it and call it good, but where’s the suspense in that?  Christmas was coming and I was giving my son, actually two of my sons, footlockers. The footlockers measured 30″ long by 12″ high by 18″ wide. My boys had already seen the footlockers in the garage. But, they didn’t know if they were for them, or one of their brothers or sisters. 

The question really is how do you disguise something in plain sight? 

A couple years ago the president of an identity protection firm was so confident in his company’s product, that he broadcast his real Social Security number. He put it in commercials. He put it on billboards. He was very upfront about it. 

You know what happened, right? Yes, hackers figured out how to steal his identity. He no longer shares his SSN. In fact, the story was that he needed to request a new SSN. He attempted to hide in plain sight. It didn’t work. 

Up until two years ago, I didn’t include a password on my wifi connection. I hid the SSID, or the name, but I didn’t otherwise protect it. I worked with a group of really smart engineers at the time.

Do you realize how simple it would be to find your SSID, Rodney?

Actually, I did. Hiding your SSID is not really security. At best it would be described as “security through obscurity.” To find the SSID, all you have to do is be near the router with a laptop, or a device that can “sniff” the packets going through the air. When my laptop, or some other device connects to my wifi router, it broadcasts the name. Essentially, my laptop yells 


Of course, my wifi router, which is constantly listening pipes up and says,

Yeah, that’s me. I’m RODNEYWIFI.

At that point the hacker knows my SSID. And worse, if they watch for just a few more packets, they will see the following exchange.

Say, RODNEYWIFI, do you have any sort of protection?

Nope. Not a thing. 

At that point the hacker owns my connections. So, why would I do something so insecure? Because I wasn’t protecting myself from my engineers. I wasn’t even really trying to protect against a hacker. I was protecting myself from the neighborhood kid next door. And he wasn’t going to hack my wifi. In other words, I was hiding in plain sight. 

Today, I’m a little more cautious. Not because the neighborhood kid got smarter. He left home and moved to Idaho. But now I have a house full of teenagers, and I want to keep a least a moderate amount of control over how they use the Internet. I still don’t broadcast my wifi name. And there are still people who could come along and “sniff” my wifi signal. Now what they’d hear would look like this.


Yeah, that’s me. I’m RODNEYSBETTERWIFI.

Say, RODNEYSBETTERWIFI, do you have any sort of protection?

Sure do.

Actually, that last bit’s not quite right. As you know, when you setup a wifi connection on your laptop, you have to already know the type of security and the password. So, the conversation would be more like

Say, RODNEYSBETTERWIFI, I have a secret.

Yeah, me too.


How do you hide something in plain sight? For Christmas, I decided not to try to wrap or hide my boys’ presents. But, I still wanted to surprise my sons. I created miniatures of each box. The painting was exactly the same, even down to the color of the star on the front; gold on one, silver on the other. then, I wrapped the models. 

And the actual footlockers? I hid them right out in plain sight. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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