Foreword – Cyber Spying Tracking Your Family's (Sometimes) Secret Online Lives


I am amazed at how much the world has changed in the last 15 years. You grow up hearing that your parents did not have TVs and that they remember when they bought their first car. You cannot believe that they paid only $18,000 for their house and are amazed at how many things have changed over one generation. Like many others, I often wondered what would be the same when I was talking to my children as they get older. Would there really be major differences between what their generation takes for granted and what my generation takes for granted. I often assumed that everything is pretty stable and that you were not going to see many changes. Now that I look back as an older man, I realize how wrong I was. Computers, technology, and the Internet are just a few examples of the many technological advances that have occurred over the last 20 years.

I can just imagine my children asking, what do you mean you did not have computers at the library? How did you look up a book? Are you serious that libraries used to have rows and rows of cards that you would use to find a book? How in the world did you perform research without the Internet? Are you for real telling me that you had to photocopy pages out of books and use that to conduct your research? How did you ever get anything done? How did you communicate from a business standpoint without e-mail? The list could go on and on, and I can imagine my children’s amazement over how anyone functioned 20 years ago. This situation is similar to talking with my dad and wondering how he did anything 20 years prior. Whether we like it or not, and whether we realize it or not, the world changes from underneath us.

When I grew up there was no e-commerce; now it is a billion-dollar-plus market. If I needed to purchase something, you would have to go from store to store until you found a store that stocked what you were looking for. Now, you can go to the Internet, purchase something at 9 P.M., and have it by 10 A.M. the next day. Before we even realize it, our world has changed. Now technology is part of our daily routine, and we have no idea how our parents survived without it. The question that pops up a lot is “before e-mail, what did people do all day at work?” Seems naïve, but nonetheless it raises interesting questions.

As the world evolves we must not only embrace the changes, but also clearly understand their attendant danger and risk. Failure to understand, address, and mitigate the risk can be detrimental. This background knowledge and the following two critical points formed the basis for writing this book.

First, do you realize that the current generation of children who are entering school will be the first generation to grow up with personal computers and access to the Internet from birth? I still remember having to type term papers with a typewriter and correct errors with correction fluid. Now I will replace my parents’ stories about having to walk barefoot in the snow to school each day with my own story of remembering when I had to type a 30-page report without a monitor. If I made a big mistake on the last line, I had to retype the entire page.

This point is one that concerns me greatly. In most cases, today’s middle school and high school children know more about computers than their parents. One of my neighbors was very upset when his oldest child went away to college because now he had no one to fix his computer or show him how to find anything online. I, in turn, was very upset when his oldest child went to college because I became his personal technical support person. Nonetheless, if high school students want to hide something that they are doing, they will have a good chance of succeeding, without their parents knowing about it.

Second, the Internet has created a whole new level of productivity; you no longer have to be face to face to meet, talk, or conspire. Great tools like e-mail, instant messaging, and the Web enable people to communicate from anywhere. In the past, to communicate with someone you either could use mail, which was very slow; meet face to face, which could be prohibitive based on distance; or use the telephone, which is easy to listen in on and track through phone bills. Now there are numerous tools that you can use across the Internet that make itextremely difficult for someone to know what you are doing, or who you’re talking to.

The number of people who use the Internet to abduct minors, mislead them, and misguide them is downright sickening. Children, and even adults, jokingly would go to a chat room and play around, thinking that they are just goofing around with other peers. They have no idea that they are being stalked, and if they only knew what could happen based on an innocent conversation, they would turn off their computers and never use them again.

Many people have no idea of the evils that exist across the Internet and problems that answering an innocent-sounding e-mail could cause. Using the techniques in this book to check up on them (aka “spy”), you can learn if they are doing something dangerous, make them aware of it, and help them change their ways. Without the technique of spying, you would not have the knowledge that is needed to help keep your family and loved ones safe.

Just because someone is not aware of a problem, does not mean it doesn’t exist. The impact is still there, and if you are not prepared, there is a greater chance that you, or your loved ones will be injured in the process. The Internet has a lot of value and should be a safe place for people to explore. We can make the Internet a safer place for all only by raising awareness and working together.

This book was written to help make the Internet more secure for friends and families; to raise awareness so that people can understand the dangers associated with the Internet; and to help parents keep their children out of trouble.

Eric Cole, Dr., Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Scientist at The Sytex Group, Inc.