Change Will Not Come in a Single Sunrise

Hoy es 9 de marzo del 2020, hoy las mujeres estamos en protesta por los 10 feminicidios que se cometen diariamente en mi país, México. No he entrado a redes sociales, no he hablado con familiares, ni con amigos, no he salido a la calle, no he hecho ruido; hoy estoy desaparecida.

Advertencia: En este escrito hablaré sobre temas que pueden ser sensibles para algunos tal como abuso sexual y violencia. Traducción al inglés al final del texto.

Disclaimer: In this post I’ll be discussing issues that might be triggering for some such as sexual assault and violence. This will be written in Spanish, English translation at the end.

Ayer 8 de marzo, Día Internacional de la Mujer salí a marchar con mis amigas. Era su primera vez protestando en las calles y, al principio, tenían mucho miedo. Llegamos a Plaza Universidad desde donde saldrían los contingentes, estaba llenísimo de mujeres, todas de negro, morado y verde. Tomé a mis amigas de la mano para que no se perdieran y al verlas a los ojos pude ver su shock, atónitas por todas las que éramos. “No puedo creer que a todas aquí nos han violentado” me dijo una de ellas mientras, con lágrimas en los ojos, miraba a las 35 mil mujeres que nos rodeaban. Pude sentir su dolor porque también es el mío.

La primera vez que viví acoso sexual callejero tenía 10 años, iba en el metro de la mano de mi mamá cuando un hombre me tocó, me quedé helada. Recuerdo voltear a ver su cara cuando pasó esperando que fuera alguien conocido que me estaba jugando una broma, no sé quién era ese hombre pero recuerdo su sonrisa, esa sonrisa cínica que me dejó en claro que yo no era mía, que me podían hacer lo que fuera y no había nada que hacer. Desde entonces cada que salgo a la calle recibo al menos una mirada lasciva, un grito obsceno, un agarrón.

Me gustaría poder decir que esa fue mi primer experiencia con acoso sexual, pero recuerdo muy claramente la forma en que nos saludaba mi tío Luis: cómo nos subía a su regazo y no nos soltaba, cómo nos tocaba las piernas, cómo nos obligaba a saludarlo de beso, cómo una vez me quiso encerrar con él en su cuarto pero yo corrí. Mi hermana odiaba saludar a la gente cuando era niña y estoy segura que en gran parte era por la incomodidad tan grande que sentía con él. Cuando murió no sentí nada más que alivio seguido de mucha culpa por pensar así.

Los acosadores no sólo son desconocidos y familiares, también son los compañeros. En secundaria un compañero constantemente decía que algún día me violaría “para que se te quite lo matadita”. Me tocó un día mientras veíamos la asamblea de los lunes, le dije que no y me alejé. El miedo verdadero lo sentí un día que fui al baño y me siguió, me hizo caer y se puso sobre mí. “A ver si ahora me puedes decir que no”, en pánico lo mordí muy fuerte y pude correr de vuelta a mi salón. Los acosadores son los amigos de la universidad que quieren contigo y te emborrachan para poder tener sexo, para poder violarte. Los que al día siguiente te dicen “Sabía que no te ibas a acordar, mensa” mientras sonríen, orgullosos de haberte tenido.

Los maestros no se salvan, van desde primaria/secundaria que nos ponían sólo a las niñas a bailar “por puntos extra”, los de prepa cuando nos subían calificación si íbamos con mini falda y escote. También son los directores de área como Sergio Ursúa que se ganó mi confianza y a quien yo veía como una figura paterna pero que en cuanto dejó de ser parte de la preparatoria en la que estaba, me esperaba en el estacionamiento, me seguía a mi casa, me marcaba de madrugada, me decía que ningún hombre más que él me podría dar lo que merecía.

“Calladita te ves más bonita”. Calladita para que no dijera sus nombres, calladita para no pedir ayuda, calladita para que me manipularan, calladita para que me abusaran, calladita, sometida, violentada, ¿así me veo más bonita? Tuvieron que pasar años y el fin de una relación amorosa muy compleja para que pudiera indignarme, para que pudiera enojarme y entender la importancia y la potencia de mi voz.

No estoy histérica, no estoy en mis días, no estoy hormonal, estoy harta. Harta de tener que consolar a mis amigas cuando sus novios las violentan, cuando sus amigos las violan. Harta de recordar a mi mamá siendo abusada y regañada por “exagerada”, de recordar su terror el día que se salió de su relación violenta. Harta de tener miedo cuando camino, de salir y tener siempre mi ubicación compartida por si me quieren desaparecer, por si me quieren matar. Harta de ni siquiera poder enojarme porque eso no es de señoritas, porque “hay otras maneras”, porque “hay que ser inteligente”. Ser inteligente no está peleado con ser emocional, con ser intensa, con sentir. Soy inteligente, por eso marcho, por eso grito, por eso escribo.

El cambio no vendrá en un amanecer. El cambio vendrá cuando los hombres dejen de vernos como propiedad, cuando dejen de objetizarnos, cuando nos respeten. El cambio vendrá cuando le pongas un alto a tu compa machito, cuando les creas a tus amigas si dicen que su novio (tu amigo) les hizo daño, cuando confrontes a tu papá y le digas que ese chiste es misógino y no da risa. El cambio vendrá cuando te mires al espejo y puedas darte cuenta del daño que le hiciste a tu ex, cuando estés dispuesto a pedirle disculpas a tus amigas por las veces que las incomodaste, cuando estés listo para corregir tus actitudes machistas.

Viví 26 años llena de miedo pero no estoy dispuesta a perder un segundo más. Mi lucha sigue por Fredele de 6 años que vivía aterrada de su papá, por Fredele de 10 años asustada en el metro, por Fredele de 14 años que la siguieron en la calle, por Fredele de 18 años acosada por su profesor, por Fredele de 19 años que despertó en la cama de su amigo confundida, por Fredele de 24 años que tenía miedo de cortar, por Fredele de hoy que lleva horas redactando esto a través de las lágrimas y el dolor. Por Fredele y por todas las demás, mis hermanas, mis tías, mis abuelas, mi mamá, mis amigas, mis compañeras, por las que tienen voz y las que no la tienen. Va por nosotras.


Today is March 9th, 2020. Today women are on strike to protest the 10 feminicides that occur daily in my country, Mexico. I haven’t entered social media, I haven’t spoken to family or friends, I haven’t gone outside, I haven’t made a sound; today I’m missing.

Yesterday, March 8th, International Women’s Day I went out to the streets to protest with my girlfriends. It was their first time protesting and, at first, they were very scared. We arrived at Plaza Universidad from where the quotas would leave, it was filled with women all dressed in black, purple and green. I held my friend’s hands to avoid losing them among the crowd, when I looked them in the eye I could see their shock, astonished at our numbers. “I can’t believe all of us here have been violated” said one of them with tears in her eyes while she took a look at the 35 thousand women surrounding us. I could feel her pain as it is my own too.

The first time I experienced street sexual harassment I was 10 years old riding the subway holding my mum’s hand when a man groped me, I froze. I remember turning around to look at his face, hoping it would be someone I knew pranking me. I don’t know who that man was but I remember his smile, that cynical smile that made it clear for me that I was not mine, that they could do whatever they wanted to me and I could do nothing. Ever since then, every time I go out I get at least one lascivious look, an obscene scream, a grope.

I’d love to say that was my first sexual harassment experience, but I remember very vividly the way my uncle Luis used to greet us. How he put us in his lap and didn’t let go, the way he touched our legs, how he made us greet him with a kiss on the cheek, how that one time he tried to lock me in his room with him but I ran. My sister hated greeting people when she was a kid, I’m certain part of it was because of the discomfort she felt with him. When he died I felt nothing but relief, followed by guilt for thinking in such a way.

Harassers aren’t just random people and family, they’re school partners too. In middle school a classmate constantly said he would one day rape me “so you stop being such a nerd”. He groped me once during Monday’s assembly, I said no and stepped away. The real fear came when one day I went to the bathroom and he followed me, made me trip and put himself on top of me. “Let’s see if you can say no this time”, in panic I bit him really hard and ran back to my classroom. Harassers are the college friends that fell for you and got you drunk to have sex, to rape you. The ones that the following day look at you and say “I knew you wouldn’t remember, dummy” as they smile, proud of having had you.

Teachers are not exempt, it’s the elementary/middle school teachers that made only girls dance “for extra points”, the high school teachers that raised our grades if we wore mini skirts and pronounced cleavages. It’s the area directors like Sergio Ursúa who gained my trust, whom I saw as a father figure but the second he stopped being part of the school waited for me in the parking lot, followed me home, called me at midnight, said no other man but him could give me what I deserved.

In Mexico there’s a popular saying “Calladita te ves más bonita”, it means “You’re prettier when you’re quiet”. I grew up not only listening to this but fervently believing it, they wanted me quiet. Quiet to not say their names, quiet to not ask for help, quiet to be manipulated, quiet to be abused, quiet, subdued, violated. Do I look prettier like this? Years and the end of a complex romantic relationship had to go by so I could feel outraged, so I could get angry and understand the importance and power of my voice.

I’m not hysterical, I’m not on my period, I’m not hormonal, I’m fed up. Fed up of having to comfort my friends when their boyfriends violate them, when their friends rape them. Fed up of remembering my mother being abused and scolded for “exaggerating”, of remembering her panic the day she stepped out of the violent relationship she was in. Fed up of being afraid when I walk, of going out and having to always have my location tracked in case someone wants to make me disappear, in case they want to kill me. Fed up of not even being able to get mad because it isn’t ladylike, because “there are other ways”, because “you have to be smarter than this”. Being smart has nothing to do with being emotional, with being intense, with feeling. I’m smart, that’s why I protest, that’s why I scream, that’s why I write.

Change will not come in a single sunrise. Change will come when men stop seeing us as property, when they stop objectifying us, when they respect us. Change will come when you put a stop to your macho friend, when you believe your girlfriends when they tell you their boyfriend (your friend) harmed them, when you confront your dad and tell him that joke is misogynistic and not funny. Change will come when you look in the mirror and realize how badly you hurt your ex, when you’re willing to apologize to your girlfriends for the times you made them feel uncomfortable, when you’re ready to correct your macho attitudes.

I’ve lived 26 years in fear, but I’m not willing to lose another second to it. My fight continues for 6 year old Fredele who lived in fear of her father, for 10 year old Fredele scared in the subway, for 14 year old Fredele who was followed in the street, for 18 year old Fredele groomed and harassed by her professor, for 19 year old Fredele who woke up confused in her friend’s bed, for 24 year old Fredele terrified of breaking up, for today’s Fredele that’s been redacting this for hours through tears and pain. For Fredele and all the others, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers, my mum, my friends, my partners, for those with a voice and those without. This goes for us.

In the Darkest Hour There is Always a Way Out

In this particular blog I won’t be talking about technology. I will be writing about topics that may be sensitive for some people (school shootings and suicide). If you don’t like reading about that, please click out right now.

My mother has a blog of her own (it’s in Spanish) and today she published a fantastic post concerning a recent event that happened in my home country, Mexico. There she talks about the Monterrey’s American School shooting and of an experience I lived during high school. I thought it was important talking about these kinds of things without taboos to help those that have lived something similar and don’t know how to deal with it. So here it goes. I’ll first describe what happened in Monterrey for some context.

A couple of days ago, in a school in Monterrey, a 15 year old shot some of his classmates and his teacher before shooting and killing himself. Many discussions have raised throughout the country from this event and people have been quick to blame the parents and the school for not having done anything to prevent the event. To those people I say, it’s easy to start finding culprits without knowing a damn thing about the ones involved and the situations behind the act.

My experience in this field was due to a rather close friend of mine who shot himself during recess. We all heard the gunshot and thought it was something else (most of us had never heard a gunshot before). Police, ambulance and his parents arrived. I saw them getting him out of the classroom and I couldn’t think straight. I remember trying to find other alternatives to what had happened, I thought “oh, definitely a burglar broke into the school and he was there so he got shot”, or “he probably just fell and accidentally hurt himself”.

Facing reality in those movie-like scenarios is tough. I wasn’t coping with the facts and I didn’t want to either. I can distinctly remember the smell of blood that flooded the entire school (or at least it seemed to) and I couldn’t believe that only hours prior we were talking and making plans of going to the movies or something. It took me hours waiting in the hospital, watching people come and go, not knowing anything and my mother quite literally dragging me out to get some sleep to accept what had happened.

The next couple of days were just torture. Newspapers quickly started writing articles about it and each had their own version of the facts. None were true. A fake Facebook profile of him was created and started liking pages like “Suicide”, “Guns” and “School Shootings”. I was mad at everyone and everything. I couldn’t believe “reliable” sources like the news were lying to everyone and twisting what had happened to get more rating. I was shocked that some idiot had actually taken the time to create a fake profile to make fun of someone who had just shot himself and was in a very delicate state. But most of all, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done anything to prevent this situation.

Looking back, he showed every sign of being troubled in some way but no one noticed until it was too late. Rumors started coming in. More bullets and syringes were found in his locker. A philosophy essay he had written weeks prior started making sense. His photography blog made sense too. His sudden social retraction. Everything. My brain was rushing, thinking about every single detail of our entire friendship trying to find a detonator, a cause. But, as far as my deep research went, there was none.

People are quick to blame everyone and everything to justify a horrible event. It isn’t always as simple and most times parents aren’t responsible for these tragedies. I knew this guy’s parents, and I know they aren’t to blame. No one is, really. It took me years of therapy to understand that and, to this day, I am prone to blaming myself about every bad thing that happens to me or the people I love.

If you have been in a similar situation, I have a super cliche phrase to help you out: “this too shall pass”. It seems impossible at first, and you’ll be drowning in your own thoughts, dealing only in the what if’s. First of all, this was not your fault. Stop even thinking about the possibility of you being the one to blame, you are not. Secondly, it might take you years to be able to talk about it without tearing up, without getting scared. No, you’ll never forget it, you’ll never be the same, but you’ll be fine. I had PTSD for a good 3 years and there are still some movie scenes that will get me to bawl my eyes out and go back to what happened (the scene in the movie “3 idiots” is the biggest trigger ever). I got better, you will too.

If you haven’t lived anything like this. You are very lucky and I wish you never do. However, you can always detect if someone is having a rough time and help them before they do something reckless. Talk to people, let them know you’re there for them in any situation they find themselves in. Keep your friends and family close, talk to your brothers, sisters and cousins, let them know you’re their ally. Never underestimate a “Hey, wanna talk?”.

Finally, I leave you with this fantastic video that shows how most people often leave clues before doing something bad or do things to seek help. Be part of those who help. If you need someone to talk to, I’m always here for you no matter the reason.

Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

Throughout my soon-ending school experience, I always thought that getting good grades was the only way to learn. I hadn’t had trouble with that until 2012, the year I became a University student. My grades dropped, I started failing subjects, my scholarship was reduced and, consequently, I had a personal crisis. It seemed obvious to me that I was becoming a failure and my life would suck forever because I just couldn’t get my average to what I wanted. My brain was going into shock and I couldn’t soak in any knowledge. I can summarize said experience with this song:

Many students believe that their grades define who they are and who they will become. If you have good grades you’ll be successful and get a good job, if they aren’t you suck. Thus, “I Must Impress My Professor” becomes a hymn.

It wasn’t until less than a year ago that I started seeing things differently. I started loving my degree and my subjects, I began feeling happy about myself and what I had accomplished. Who cares about grades when I have so much more to offer? I clearly remember a few months ago when I called my mum and told her “I think I’m finally getting the hang of school”. She laughed and said “Well, better late than never!”. It literally took me 19 years to understand what school was all about, or at least what it should be about.

A huge part of this change of mind I had, I owe to Ken Bauer and every other teacher that focused on helping students learn instead of showing off and acting as a deity. It’s because of you that I understood that everyone has their own learning process and it’s OK to take longer to understand something and it’s OK not to be as fast or as optimal as someone else. You are your own standard and your own competition. To all of you, thank you.

mvp

To all of the teachers and educators that read me, I believe it’s time to change things. It’s unfair to have the exact same expectations from every person, the situation worsens even more when we talk about children. Do we really want robots who are able to shout at the top of their lungs the right answer for every math and logic problem? Or do we want conscious citizens that change things and innovate towards building a better world? We need to help them discover what they’re passionate about and let them evolve in whatever area they want to.

To parents out there, your little girl can use tools and play in the mud, your little boy can learn how to cook and play with dolls; none of those things will take their femininity or masculinity away. They’re kids, that doesn’t matter to them and it shouldn’t matter to you either. The worst thing you can do as a parent is limit your child’s hopes and dreams. Pink is not just for girls, blue is not just for boys.

gems

The Crystal Gems don’t follow gender roles (they’re technically gender-less) and rock big time. 

And finally, to all students and regular people out there, dare yourself to learn. Try new methods, do new things, learn from every single breath you take; I promise it’s worth it.

Sorry, I’m dead

Today, October the 21st, the world has gone mad due to many sites being “down” or “not loading”. This isn’t quite what happened. The internet doesn’t just stop working and hackers don’t just turn a service down. There is method in madness and I’m here to explain it to you.

What happened today was a DDoS attack to a DNS. Sounds like I’m speaking in another language, right? It’s actually rather simple. A DDoS attack is a Distributed Denial of Service attack. This can be explained with a simple analogy.

Imagine you are in a taco stand, there is only one person making the tacos and there are many others surrounding the stand to make their order. A DDoS attack is when there are a lot of people yelling “I want 3 tacos!” at the same time and the taco-maker gets stressed out, says “I’m not giving any tacos to any of you!” and storms out.

taco

These is how real tacos look like, by the way. Gif obtained here

Much like a taco-maker, an internet server has a limited capacity and when that capacity is reached, it crashes.

Now, a DNS is a Domain Name System. This is like a phone directory (sorry, Digital Natives, you’re gonna have to ask your parents what that is) for the web pages. It assigns their IP address. So, when you shut down a DNS and a web page has no other way of giving clients the IP address, it simply won’t display anything and your browser will say something like this:

dns_probe_finished_nxdomain-error-message

Image obtained here

What happened today is that hackers combined the two and attacked the DNS provider via a DDoS. This is why none of us were able to access the affected pages. The company’s name is Dyn and some of the pages and services that suffered this attack were Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Paypal, Airbnb, Reddit and many more. I almost collapsed when I wanted to tweet about what was going on but couldn’t due to it.

This type of attacks are very common and incredibly easy to create. However you need a lot of computers and processing power to kill a DNS as big as that one. As a hacker, I can say the attack was brilliant and very impressive. As a user, I can only say, HOW DARE YOU?!. Below you can see how the attack looked like.

ddos

Gif obtained here

So now you know what happened and you can go ahead and brag about it using my fancy terms. You’re welcome.

They say flowers can open new paths

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a girl. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing and very supportive family that has always believed in me and in my dreams. When I wanted to be a scientist, they bought me a “scientist kit” (which consisted of a cheap microscope and several things to observe such as a leaf, grass, blood, and even a small piece of human brain); when I wanted to be a mathematician, they bought me children’s math books (“El Diablo de los Números” was a huge influence in my life and I learned binary since I was 10. Not two, ten); when I wanted to be a chemist, my grandfather sat with me and taught me how to “make” polyurethane and taught me how to create safe chemical reactions, he was also the one that taught me how to use a computer. I’ve always been an empowered woman, to be quite honest.

Despite my family’s best efforts, I was never exempt from sexism. When I was a kid, I was often teased for “not being pretty enough” or for having a “weird nose” while my male classmates got none of that. I heard mock-comments like “you run like a girl” or “don’t be a girl” (this is a common saying in my country that means not being a coward ) and I always questioned it “Why is being a girl a bad thing? Am I wrong? Am I weak?”. When I started developing as a woman is when it started to get real. To this day, every time I walk by myself or ride my bike I get catcalled at least once (I wish this meant people thinking I’m an actual cat and being freaked out about it, it’d be waaaay better). I have been groped in public transport several times and at first I was too shocked to be able to say or do anything, the first time this happened I was ten years old. I’ve been called a tease for not wanting to date someone. I’ve been called a whore for talking openly about my sexuality. I’ve also been called a tomboy and have heard people complaining about me not being feminine enough for not wearing makeup everyday and not liking dresses (“You’d look so beautiful if you cared a bit more about yourself” What does that even mean?). I’ve been diminished and not taken into account just because “I’m a girl”. And of course, if I’m in a bad mood it must be because I’m on my period. All of this along with the things people have said behind my back and I haven’t noticed and the things I’m not comfortable discussing here.

harassment

Gif obtained here

It sounds like a lot, I know. But this is not even a fraction of what other girls go through on a daily basis. In Mexico 1 in every 5 girls has been sexually assaulted by a family member or a family friend. According to the UNICEF, 31 million girls don’t attend to school because their purpose is supposed to just be becoming a wife and a mother. There are girls kidnapped every day and sold to be raped, mutilated and/or killed. In over 30 countries female genital mutilation is still a common thing, many girls don’t survive this process because it’s often done without anesthesia and with shards of glass, oxidized metal or stones. In some countries girls are not allowed to leave their house while on their period because it’s considered to be disgraceful. Girls are still forced to be married as young as eight years old and those girls start having babies at thirteen. Girls aren’t educated about sexuality because they are to remain pure until marriage and when they get pregnant they become the official family let down. In some cultures having a baby girl is still considered a failure and some are even left to die. Considering all of this, I’ve been very lucky.

I want to take this opportunity to empower girls and women to follow their dreams and not depend on anyone other than themselves. Below is one of my favourite feminists quotes said by none other than my role model and personal hero, Wendy Corduroy from Gravity Falls. (I made the gif and I feel so proud of myself).

women

Gif obtained here

Today, as well as being the International Day of the Girl, it’s Ada Lovelace’s Day. She was a wonderful lady who happened to be the first computer programmer. Two other fantastic women that worked in this area are Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton. Grace was a navy rear admiral and a computer programmer, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language and was one of the first high-level programmers. She was better known by her nickname “Amazing Grace”. Margaret, on the other hand, worked for NASA on developing in-flight software for Apolo 11. Here she is standing next to the code she helped create.

hamilton

Picture obtained here

Nowadays, girls are too afraid to enter a “man’s world” and choose other majors due to the fear of being judged or feeling uncomfortable. I can completely understand that. When I switched majors many believed I did so because I wanted to have classes with my boyfriend (who’s also studying computer systems engineering). And as soon as I entered, I found out why many girls dropped out. 90% of the students were men and “men talk” could be heard all the time. By men talk, I mean entering a classroom and watch a bunch of guys in front of a computer stalking a freshman girl and talking about how hot she is. I also mean all sorts of penis jokes and an immeasurable amount of curse words said by the minute. I’m used to this already and can counter everything they try telling me. I know most times it’s a joke, but the fact that some of us know it’s a joke and are able to take it as such, does not mean that other girls will understand this or won’t get offended by it. And you know what? They have a right to be offended. Because they deal with sexist comments and prejudice on a daily basis. Their major should not be another place to feel threatened or annoyed.

So, to my fellow male colleagues, stop being sexist. Not only in the classroom, but in life. Let’s make this major a great major in every way possible. And, to my fellow female colleagues and to any girl interested in computer science, be brave and dare to try! You learn not only about computers and algorithms (which are fascinating), but you also learn about people, there is room to be artistic (I believe every code is a piece of art, unmatched and original) and you can code literally anything you set your mind to. Exploit your intelligence and your ideas. Don’t be afraid of being in a “men’s world”, make it a woman’s world too, make it an everybody’s world.

And finally a small piece of advice to you, dear reader. Be inclusive, be respectful and follow your dreams. Also, thank you for reading my super long feminist rant, I had a lot to say.

feministrant

Gif obtained here

By the Gods, what have I become? (Final part)

Let’s start with a small summary of my morning today. I woke up super late (because I fell asleep very late) and ran to put on my clothes and get ready for today. However, when I was about to open the door and blast out, someone rang the doorbell. I knew no one was arriving this morning, so I decided to go back up and see who was outside through a window. It was a white truck with no company logo on it. I called my house mates to ask if we were expecting anyone and they said no. With all this data, I decided to wait until they left to leave the house. When they finally did, I saw that they left a piece of paper that said “We are your internet provider, we came to install your internet but no one was home, please call this number”. The weird part about this is that, as you probably read in my part 3 & 4 blog postthey did that two days ago. It might have been just a confusion from the company, but either way I decided to not open the door and keep myself safe. Be aware of your surroundings.

rethink son

Today we talked to Rebecca Hogue and Helen DeWaard. The dynamic of this was people asking questions and them answering from their points of views. Helen mentioned that you can share personal information but it can be public, private or a combination of the two. For instance, you can share a picture of your living room, but not tell where in the world you live. This way you share a bit more about yourself but not enough to be exposed to dangerous things. Being vulnerable on the internet is also learning and opening yourself to opportunities and new experiences.

There was a fantastic question about people who commit suicide due to being teased on the internet and their private information, pictures and/or videos being leaked. Rebecca mentioned that Google changed their policies and if you report there’s unauthorized videos of you, they can actually not index them on their browser so it won’t appear to curious people that look for it. She said that if there’s things on the internet that you don’t want people to see, you should create more content! Exposing yourself the way you want to be exposed. However this takes at least 6 months to work. Helen mentioned that you should use your resources wisely, if you see something that you don’t approve, speak up. Being brave is vital these days.

courage

Another topic that was talked about was the power of blogging. People can tear apart any business by writing a bad review on their blog and spreading the word. While it can be great to get feedback from your clients, there might be someone who just doesn’t like you and gives a terrible review. There isn’t much to do about this but understanding that your words have an impact in real life.

“If you don’t create a digital identity, one will be created for you”. This was said by Rebecca and is, in my opinion, the most important thing of this course. Having a digital identity in this day and age should be like having a birth certificate. It shows the world you exist and who you are. The cool thing is that, both IRL and virtually, you can decide who you want to be and the image you give of yourself to others. Many people choose to have alter egos for themselves on the internet (I know a couple of them) and I think it’s brilliant. This allows you to explore a different phase of you and share it with those who like similar things. I have the itch to do something like it, but I haven’t landed a concept I’m comfortable and happy with. If I ever do, I’ll let you know.

This post ends my experience as an intruder in a digital identity course. I want to thank Ken Bauer for allowing me to be here this whole week and also I want to thank you, my readers for not thinking “this is lame content” and not leaving any hate comments on my blog, hahaha. Seriously, though, I appreciate you all for reading me. As for this blog, it will return to its normal information security and hacking content.

thank-you

 

All gifs were obtained from giphy.com.

By the Gods, what have I become? (Parts 3 & 4)

First of all, if you wish to read part one, click here. If you wish to read part two, click here.

So, this was Wednesday’s course and I couldn’t attend 😦 I spent my morning waiting for the internet people to arrive and later on I geeked out on my Wireless Network course <3. I literally had Amy’s look the whole time during said course. And my boyfriend, of course, had Sheldon’s look…

me

Anyway, back to what matters. Day four. This morning was about people commenting on other’s blogs. They had the chance to actually read what their classmates wrote and give themselves a different perspective on certain things.

Today’s talk was with Maha Bali, she’s a professor at the American University in Cairo. As one could expect, her culture is 180° different to ours and I found that incredibly fascinating. Many people asked questions and started creating conversation, Maha talked about how people can take things you said out of context and use it against you. She talked about creating public and private digital presences depending on what you want to say to the world. Creating private connections online is equally important. A recurring topic was the opinion people have on “ignoring” each other due to social media or phones. The thing is that when you’re on social media, WhatsApp, Telegram and all these apps, you actually are socializing.

Older generations tend to bash technology blaming every social problem on them mainly because it’s the “unknown” and that can always be scary. Not understanding something doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it simply means that you don’t get it and aren’t used to it. Be respectful to others thoughts and ideas, please. Which takes me to my next topic: censorship.

unacceptable

Maha talked about censorship and how in the country she lives in she doesn’t like to express her view on politics for safety reasons. She talked about Donald Trump and how he is never censored and thus, everyone that follows him and agrees with him isn’t censored either despite giving a full-on hate speech. So Maha asked: “Is the solution censoring?” and proceeded to talk about freedom of speech, religions and cultures. You can’t just censor someone because then you’d have to censor everyone and create an attack on freedom. The whole thing turns into a complicated dilemma.

I think her talk made people think about how the world is a huuuuge place and everyone lives through different things. At least that’s what I got left from the whole thing.

Be ready for tomorrow’s blog. The last blog.

 

By the Gods, what have I become? (Part 2)

I arrived kind of late and when I came in, everyone was making collages, I felt back in kindergarten and primary school. The activity was taking pictures of words and things that represent who you are, to take fragments of yourself and create an artistic picture with it.

photo_2016-09-27_10-04-12

Wish picture taken at Yoko Ono’s exposition in Mexico City.

Later on, there were four video calls with four different people, I will talk about each one of them below:

Laura & Lee

The first two speakers were Laura Gogia and Lee Skallerup, they’re two amazing ladies very involved in the digital world as a whole. They both talked about their experiences with social media in their own personal lives (at school, work, with their families, etc) and gave tips and tricks on how to become more open on the internet without creating a bad reputation. I loved the way they respected the privacy of others. Interestingly enough the first question popped up pretty quickly.

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This question is interesting to me, because it specifically talks about discrimination in social media, something we (as humans, I mean, not just women) have to deal with daily.

Lee talked about how there have always been people that hate-read her and left nasty comments, and how she got support from other followers and readers, and how she changed her perspective on who reads her and what’s important. The point of blogging is getting what you want. If you’re not, you should reconsider what you’re doing and what you’re writing about. She also talked about how marginalized communities are  moving into closed spaces due to the hate they’ve received. Lee mentioned that it’s great having many different channels through which people can communicate.

Laura, on the other hand, said that for her it was about using the media to communicate different things “we don’t have different personalities in each platform, we just use them in a different way”. I found myself feeling identified when she mentioned this because, for example, I rarely use Facebook to communicate things but I use Twitter literally all the time. What I post on Facebook are more “serious” topics and on Twitter I sometimes even rant about things that are happening in my life.

Another question that caught my attention was “what are the risks of having a popular digital identity”. Part of the answer was “why do you want to be popular?” They mentioned that their Twitter and blog presence have gotten them jobs and life opportunities. There’s a risk on oversharing, of course, but in the end it’s your choice what you share and what you don’t. In the end it’s all about how much of your life and thoughts you want to share, and who you want to share them with.

Alan & Amy

Next were Alan Levine and Amy Burvall. People asked a lot about how to know if what you’re writing is good enough. To that, Alan answered in the most brilliant way, I even tweeted it:

Amy has a really artistic way of expressing herself and I really admire that, her Photo Safari is inspiring and is also a way of communicating online. I think people don’t like daring to do something different or original because they’re afraid of being judged by others. I can’t blame them, the internet is full of haters and judgy people that will leave bad comments about you or your work. Be like Amy, people, dare to be creative and share that with the world. Here’s a link to her YouTube channel where she gives history lessons in a very unusual way.

Alan talked a lot about content and the concept of stealing on the internet. It’s incredibly complex to control what people on the internet do with the information you post. He’s even got a post on said topic. He’s been cat-fished a bunch of times and there’s nothing he can do about it except for talking about it on his blogs. There are ways of reporting people impersonating you or using your pictures claiming they’re someone else, but the problem is, you can’t report them until you actually find them. I hope none of you, my dear readers, go through something like this, but if you do, you can ask Alan about it.

If you wish to read the first part of this blog, click here.

By the Gods, what have I become? (Part 1)

This week I decided to sneak in to a digital identity course that’s being taught by my security teacher Ken Bauer. My reasons behind this were to basically know what “regular” people  (by this I mean non-tech savvy people) are afraid of, what their doubts about the internet are and the reasons why they don’t feel safe online. This will give me a better perspective on what to talk about in this blog and how to talk about it.

Today’s day one and I’m writing this as we take the course, so I’ll talk a bit about the experience. We had a talk with Dave Cormier and people dared to ask several questions. Interestingly enough, all the questions so far have been completely related to security. Will hackers get me? Is my information safe? What do people generally steal from internet users? Will I ever get hacked?

questions

The answer to all of this was: you are always at risk.

Since the course is about digital identity, I will also talk about that. First of all, what is digital identity? It’s basically the way you represent yourself online. It’s how people will see you on social media. You may think “but it’s the internet, I can be whomever I want to be!” to that I say, of course you can! However be ready to face the consequences of that. Digital identity is similar to a tattoo. You choose the design and ink it in your body forever and ever. So, like a tattoo, be sure to create something you like, something that represents you and preferably something you aren’t ashamed of.

tattoo

Once you realize everything you do can be found by literally anyone, you can start worrying about all those terrible, terrible pictures from middle school. That bad hairdo will be haunting you till the end of your digital days. And you may even start asking yourself: who am I? This, I believe, is the best question to ask. When you find out who you are and who you want to be, is when you can start taking steps into becoming that person. This is vital to create your digital identity.

But back to my research. Although everyone in this course (including myself) is part of the Millennial generation, we’ve been witnesses to technology’s drastic XXI century revolution. We think we know how stuff works when in reality we don’t. Due to this, we are incredibly afraid of what might happen if we share too much or too little. I’m pretty sure at least 50% of all the people here have been scammed, phished, cyber bullied or tricked while on the internet. My advice is to always be aware that the whole world can see what you post, if you feel confident about it after that thought then feel free to post it! Just remember you’re never anonymous (unless you really, really know how to do so, expect posts about that for my security blog posts in the future).

regretnothing

I’m eager to know more about how my generation thinks and how I can potentially help them as well as learn more to become a better computer systems engineer (and hacker).

Stay tuned for more.

All gifs obtained from http://giphy.com/

The cake is a lie

Ah, the internet. Our generation’s favourite place to be. It gives us everything we could possibly want or need. You can watch videos, listen to music, play games, communicate with friends or family, research things, write documents, share information, meet people, you can even buy cake! But beware, my friends, for the cake is a lie.

Older generations love saying how bad the internet is, complaining about how we spend all our day sitting in front of a computer or looking at a cell phone instead of “socializing” and “being productive”. We all know that we don’t socialize because we don’t want to, not because the internet is holding us hostage. However, people from the internet may literally hold us hostage by using this tool. Fortunately, I’m here for you to explain the most common attacks and dangers of the internet, as well as give you tips and tricks on how to protect yourself and your loved ones. We’ll start with the ugly part first.

The following video was created in August 2015 to show mainly parents the dangers of social media and the internet as a whole. It’s a fantastic example of how people can and will be manipulated into believing something they cannot corroborate.

As we can see, it’s very easy making someone believe anything when you’re hiding behind a screen. Most times people will gain your trust or trick you into believing you’re in an official web page so that they can obtain your data. Whether you believe it or not, your information is important and can be sold for hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars. The buyers of said information can either be people you know or people you don’t which makes it so much scarier. This information can then be used in many other ways, the most common are:

  • Identity theft
  • Selling your information
  • Using your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Sharing private photos or information on social media

By doing this, you’re vulnerable to frame-up, theft, kidnapping, blackmail and even homicide. But what to do to be safe, then?

fish

First of all be sure to check the URL of every page you visit, also don’t trust any links that take you to a “bank” web page. But most of all, be careful with what you do on social media and who you talk to.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and all social media are all great ways of keeping in touch with friends and family, they’re ways to express what we think and let humanity know a bit more of us, but mostly they’re fun. I’m all in for being active on the internet and sharing your experiences, thoughts and even photos. However, you have to be careful with what you say and post.

erase-ron

You must assume that every single thing can and will be used against you. We have all heard at least one case of cyber bullying caused by private pictures being spread across the internet, it’s unfair and those who do it should be punished, but the reality is that things like that can happen. So pretty please, be careful with what you do, think before you act.

Now, if you love livin’ la vida loca and usually connect to wireless WiFi networks, STOP DOING IT. It’s extremely easy for hackers to steal passwords and information when you’re connected to said networks. If you have no other choice but to do it, at least encrypt all your passwords and preferably use a virtual machine.

If you’re a millennial and have all the Internet of Things things, read every single instruction to know exactly how it works and always change the default passwords. Most importantly, make sure they’re connected to a separate network, this way no one will have access to your things unless you let them.

When chatting, be sure that your way of communication is safe. According to the Business Insider the following are the most secure messaging apps:

  • TextSecure
  • Signal
  • Telegram (secret chats only)
  • Silent Texts
  • Gliph
  • Crypto Cat
  • Bleep

I personally would add Whatsapp because in their recent updates, have done a lot to protect their user’s data. You are safe there too, don’t worry.

Finally, although it may sound stupid and exaggerated, put a sticker, piece of paper or whatever in front of your computer’s camera. It’s scary how easy it can be for someone to hack into your camera and watch your every single move (even if that means watching you binge watch a Netflix series, eat junk food and occasionally chuckle at some meme).

Be paranoid if you must, just be aware of the dangers you’re exposed to while discovering the multiple marvels of the internet. Now, proceed to enjoy one of my favourite internet wonders.