1. Opinion

Ruth: The kids are all right but I'm a little shaky

Published Apr. 10, 2014

Please consider this an old fogey spoiler alert. But I've just about had it up to here with all this technology stuff.

It's not as if I don't appreciate and use many of these newfangled gizmos at my disposal — an iPhone and an iPad, which come in handy when taking silly pictures of the dog wearing funny hats. I email and even occasionally text the Marigold of Marathon to ask what she wants for dinner.

And after years of circumspection, I have concluded ATM transactions are probably here to stay. Probably. It's all very nice, in a Dick Tracy video wristwatch sort of way.

But aside from goofy goldendoodle photos, all of this so-called progress comes at what price?

As we learned in a big way months ago, evildoers were able to hack into the computers of Target and other big retailers to purloin most of your personal and financial data.

And just days ago, a team of Finnish security experts announced the mega-websites such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Amazon have major software flaws that would enable Internet malcontents to access your passwords, stored files, banking information and Social Security number.

The revelations that our lives are more of a literal open book than the adventures of Miley Cyrus come in the wake of reports that San Diego area 5-year-old Kristoffer Von Hassel exploited a glitch in Microsoft's Xbox One gaming system to log on to a player's online profile without even using their personal password.

I don't know what you were doing at age 5, but I had barely mastered remedial finger painting. Kids these days!

With a name like Kristoffer Von Hassel this lad would seem to have a bright career either as a cyber genius or a future Bond villain.

Society has been blessed with visionaries such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who have created the most advanced technological communications the world has ever seen. These individuals, along with many others, have built immense corporate empires populated by hundreds of thousands of brilliant geeks, wonks, nerds and eggheads who spend their days creating even more wondrous applications for our numerous computer systems. Angry Birds — now there's a "Watson, come here, I need you," moment for you.

And yet, despite the most elaborate algorithms, complex security firewalls and endless streams of unfathomable computer codes, the vast system of technology created by the globe's most intelligent semi-idiot savants can be compromised with a few keystrokes by a little boy barely out of diapers.

It's toss-up whether to crawl into a fetal position or hire this toddler to troubleshoot the Affordable Care Act website. Maybe both?

I don't mean to come off as all that defeatist, but we would probably feel much better if all of us simply gave up, waved the white flag and surrendered ourselves to the notion there is simply precious little privacy left to be protected.

After all, by the time some multinational organization announces its internal data has been hacked by troublemakers with vague Balkan accents or Our Gang's Spanky — compromising your financial and personal information along with your online orders for Slim Whitman's greatest hits — the damage is done.

Perhaps we should all include our Social Security numbers, bank accounts, blood types, favorite passwords and mother's maiden name on all our email correspondence, Facebook postings, other social media interactions and simply be done with the mystery and anxiety of not if, but when our lives and our privacy will be invaded.

We really don't stand a chance, do we? We are all cyber chumps.

When the National Security Agency isn't collecting meta data on your phone calls and Internet activity, some guy named Boris sitting in a hut over in Whateverstan is trolling the ether gathering up your credit card history while the E-Trade baby cartel hacks into your brokerage account.

There was a story the other day noting that while customer service among the airlines is at an all-time low, fewer passengers are registering complaints about lost luggage, canceled flights and dirty cabins, as they are sadly consigned to being treated like drones.

Simply put — admit it, we're beaten. When we log on, we log off over any expectation our transactions, our privacy, our security will be protected. And we're too beaten to get angry. Too many prying eyes. Too many tapping fingers.

The whole world is watching. Everybody knows that, even 5-year-olds.