How To

Breaking up (badly,) in the digital age

Before I start, don’t worry, this isn’t about me and it’s just some things to think about. I’ve been reading more and more hell stories of tech savvy exes getting – I won’t say revenge, because that implies they were wronged somehow in a way that total creeper behavior is justified, but working to put a digital hurt on the people they claimed to care about previously and somehow are not realizing the irony here.

This is not a comprehensive guide. This is more just some things to think about when you’re dealing with discovering the person you liked has decided to stalk/hurt you via technology.

Things I’ve seen have included stalking by location sharing (which I’ve had to disable before for a friend of a friend who’s ex just happened to keep showing up wherever she went,) poisoning the ex’s work’s searches, reading emails and texts (which another friend’s parents… long story ending badly,) snooping via Nest/Foscam/Etc cameras, ghosting Facebook accounts (where you’re both logged in,) and a whole host of things we didn’t think about five years ago when we didn’t all have internet connected spy gear for $20 hanging around.

Since the burden of proving an ex is doing something illegal will mostly fall on you, the fear of wiretapping charges amongst the habitually pining exes are pretty low.

Some things to do to secure your solidarity, not that you should have to do anything other than tell them it’s over, from the recent evidently stalker ex include:

Secure your internet accounts

Starting on a device you trust (say coworker’s computer,) you need to start with one thing you’re sure isn’t hacked or compromised, we’ll start with your email. Turn on two-factor authentication, use a code/authentication app. Texts can potentially be intercepted. Change the password.

Make sure there are no recovery tokens for authentication still issued from when you had two-factor on before. Check logins to the account to make sure nobody’s accessing it. Don’t store recovery tokens where the ex could potentially find them.

If you have iCloud, Dropbox, or anything that backs up your phone/pictures/texts, change the freaking password and make sure it’s not shared with anyone. If you have any sort of cloud connected text messaging, change the password.

Change your social media passwords. Enable two factor authentication as well.

If you’ve got an OAUTH service, revoke all logins. EG you logged into a site using Facebook credentials.

Secure your devices

Make sure location sharing and tracking is turned off. If you’ve got something like Sprint’s Drive/Family locator, remove it from the car.

If you’ve got Nest security cameras (or any for that matter,) change your Nest password, enable two-factor authentication, and for good measure reset or unplug the cameras so there’s no way they’re filming anything. Even when you change a password on some of these there may be a sharing link still active.

Ensure your phone is not rooted and uninstall any apps you don’t use or recognize. Alternately ensure it is rooted and install a new ROM.

Change your WiFi passwords so if there’s any random $30 listening device the ex left wired into a toaster it no longer has a WiFi connection. This also prevents the ex from driving up, hitting child porn sites, and having the FBI rain down on your house.

If you’ve got XFinity or any type of Internet connection that also offers up a hotspot for the public, have that disabled. Just because you changed your personal WiFi password to X(3312Jfjsdf#@ doesn’t mean that the carrier’s hotspot isn’t going to be active for a remote access device left inside the house.

If you’ve got smart energy monitoring devices, smart locks, etc these can all be used to inform someone of your comings and goings. A shared Netflix account can be used to tell when someone’s home and watching a show.

Due to the ability to track anyone by phone number and $300 or so, you might also have to change your number.

Lock your accounts

Call your phone company, make sure there’s a PIN that’s not your birthdate on your phone. This can be used to make things hell.

Assume the worst, lock your credit.

Change your locks

Smart lock, dumb lock, either way does the ex have access? Are you sure? Is your lock spying on you?

Petition lawmakers for a change

The above is ridiculous and barely scratches the surface if you’ve got a stalker these days. The police generally will not be able to help without proof, and getting proof that someone is stalking and otherwise in your accounts is difficult if they have any idea what they’re doing.


Yeah, that’s barely scratching the surface. Things you don’t think of are vulnerable to people you’d never expect to turn into a creeper. Oh wait, a shared Nest thermostat account can be used as an improvised motion detection device? A shared Netflix account can give up your Netflix and chill times?

My smart electric meter I shared access with seven years ago can guess when I’m home and when I leave?

Location data, shared quite often in family plans, can tell where you’re spending your time and you can guess at with who.

My apartment’s network connected smart-locks can be read by anyone with access to an Ethernet port & Wireshark. Any event on my lock, although encrypted, can be traced back to the unique IP/MAC? Well that’s lovely. That won’t tell anyone anything except that the lock is being activated. What could that possibly… oh.

Feel free to share tips / horror stories. I’ve had one stalker in my life, thankfully before the digital-everything-smart age, and what I’ve seen things have gone significantly downhill since the times dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the police could physically remove people from your yard.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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