Computer technology in romantic fiction:
What does computer technology have to do with romance novels?
“You mean besides using them to write your story?”
“Better than a typewriter,” yelled an interlocutor. Laughter goes up the room.
“Yes,” I reply.
Someone yelled, “You can use the computers to find Romance.”
“Ah good. Now you’re thinking. How many of you have done this?”
Some hands are raised above the crowd.
“Oh come on. There has to be more than a handful.”
More arms crawl upward and rise higher than heads.
“Okay. Let’s get on with that topic, Social media with a sociopath. “
Imagine, if you wish, that you have a heroine who just wants to find romance. After dating the losers of the century, he decides there has to be a better way. Unable and reluctant to attempt to photograph Mr. Perfect based on her own judgment, she turns to an online dating service. After all, they guarantee a ‘happily ever after’ or your money back.
After signing up for the service, our heroine, let’s call her Jane, sits at home, turns on her computer, and logs into the dating website. Once there, check out the recommended matches. Finally, he chooses a pair and gets in touch with them. Two days later, Jane goes on her first date.
The couple of dates with possible Mr. Right are fine, but when they kiss, his toes don’t curl, so he decides to move on to Mr. Wrong. Unfortunately, Mr. Wrong refuses to give her up. It turns out that the guy Jane picked was not only Mr. Wrong, but he’s also a stalker. Because Jane let him pick her up for one of her dates, the “nutty” now knows where she lives and chooses to follow her wherever she goes, even when she’s on other dates.
“What do you think so far?”
“The guy is a real madman!”
“Yeah, but it happens,” someone else yelled.
“It’s true. Now let’s take it a step further.”
Our crazy man, aka Bob, has been on a couple of dates with Jane, so he obviously knows something about her likes and dislikes. Unless, of course, he’s one of those guys who only talks about himself.
Low laughter echoes through the room.
Let’s say you know that Jane has been looking for Craigslist.com and eBay.com to purchase a Denon Dual Tape Deck. This is something you desperately want and seek regularly. Now Bob has an idea. Bob places an ad on both Craigslist and eBay for the exact recorder that he knows Jane wants and of course Jane sees and responds.
Jane is so excited that she finally found what she was looking for that she doesn’t waste time on an offer, she just offers the full amount. The seller accepts her money and Jane is eager to go pick it up. You get goose bumps just thinking about your new electronic gadget. After arranging a time to retrieve your purchase, use the instructions emailed to you and drive to the address.
Imagine Jane’s face, the expression of utter shock, and the lump in her throat when Bob opens the door. The surprise of seeing Bob not only bothers her, but there is no tape deck. Jane turns and runs out of there. That my dear friends is fraud.
“Are you seeing where I’m going here? Until now, our antagonist has used computer technology to defraud and stalk our protagonist.”
“Do people really do that?”
“Duh!” A man yelled from the back of the room.
Shaking my hands, I announce, “We’re not done yet. What else can this lone antagonist do with the use of computer technology to wreak havoc on our lovely protagonist?”
My turn to laugh. “Very good. Bob has already been identified as a stalker, so why not cyberbullying?”
“What does that mean exactly?” Several voices screamed at the same time.
Cyber stalking It occurs when someone uses the Internet or other electronic means to stalk another person. Tools like email, Instant Messanger, and websites are great for harassing and threatening someone. The social media site can be a breeding ground for this type of antisocial behavior. Sites like My space, Facebook, and Twitter let others follow you and leave comments for you and others to see. You can try blocking them, but there are ways around it as simple as creating another account and starting over.
“Plus, the scary, it makes you cringe at the kind of creepiness cyber stalking factor. There’s so much more that Bob, our villain, can do.”
Big smile on my face. “I’m so glad you asked. Have you ever heard of phishing?”
“You mean fishing for trout?”
A roar of laughter breaks out. I clear my throat. “Not quite.”
Phishing is usually carried out via email or a website intended to represent a real company, but it is not. For example, spoofing is used in fake emails you receive from your bank that say, “We need you to confirm your account.” Jane, our unsuspecting victim, clicks on the link in the message and is redirected to a fake website. She does what she is told and fills in her personal information, including her credit card or bank account numbers. Bob, who was a stalker and petty fraud, has now committed another act of fraud and stolen financial information that he could use and probably did it to get another credit card with his account number on and / or buy something. Knowing this sick man, he bought a negligee and sent it to Jane as a gift.
“Do you remember the movie ‘The Net’?”
The crowd yells, “Yes.”
That movie was based on the use of software to steal someone else’s identity. Basically, Bob has everything he needs from Jane to steal her identity thanks to her Phishing. But he could have obtained the information in another way. Let’s say Bob is a real hacker.
“This guy just keeps getting worse and worse!”
“Certainly, but to continue.”
Bob is a software guru and knows how to hack systems. He can, based on the little information he has already unknowingly received from Jane, can use a snort to get their passwords. With passwords, Bob now has the ability to access other websites Jane uses or her email or whatever else she thinks is secure. You could go into your email and send it elsewhere or close it. You could log into your bank and transfer all of your funds.
Raising an index finger, I take a sip of water and start over.
Bob is even worse than I imagined. You see, Bob wanted to date Jane to get inside information about his business competitor. Through those passwords that he managed to acquire from Jane’s computer, Bob agrees industrial spy. You can get information about the company’s finances, its research and development, marketing, and even personnel records. The really terrible part about this is that it used Jane’s login credentials, so when the intrusion and theft are discovered, it will appear that Jane did or was involved.
“Oh yeah. But I’m not done.”
Bob is a career criminal. With access to the network at Jane’s company, Bob installed software that gives him access to the funds in his financial accounts. You can divert and move money to multiple accounts of your own, hiding the source of your new wealth. He’s money laundering in the digital age.
Someone like Bob could participate on his own, or he could participate with a partner. Bob’s partner in crime is a terrorist.
Muffled screams erupt throughout the space of a crowded room.
Bob is laundering money for his hostile terrorist who needs him to hack and take down the websites of government organizations. Cyber terrorism. An example of this occurred last year when someone hacked the website of the Republic of Georgia during the Georgia-Ossetian war. This kind of terrorism is little compared to the underlying reason why a terrorist would pay Bob untraceable money. Usually there are illegal weapons, drugs, people transport and many other illegal activities.
“What does all that have to do with Jane?” A lonely woman screamed from her seat.
“Ah. It all started with Jane.”
Jane was the conduit to make all these bad things happen. If it weren’t for Jane’s lack of knowledge and computer security, Bob would never have been able to fool her as much as he did. Also, remember, to the naked eye and without training, Jane will look like the criminal.
Our antagonist did an excellent job antagonizing our good-natured protagonist who was only looking for romance.