More than identity theft, computer security expert Daniel J. Lohrmann is troubled about a different threat lurking online—integrity theft. In Virtual Integrity, Lohrmann reveals the vast scope of the potential pitfalls we face every time we surf the Web—the temptations vying for our thoughts, dreams, time, and money.
He explains technical issues in clear, everyday language and shares compelling stories from his experiences on the job and at home. Balancing a sobering view of reality with a hopeful vision for the future, Virtual Integrity will empower you to be part of the solution, starting with surfing your values.
Dan Lohrmann is an internationally recognized Internet and computer security expert. Currently, Mr. Lohrmann works as the CSO for the state of Michigan. For seven years he served as the Chief Information Security Officer for the Michigan government. He started his career in the National Security Agency, and later worked in England for seven years with Lockheed Martin followed by Mantech International. Dan holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Bachelor’s Degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.
Dan Lohrmann blogs at…
Q: How are ethical and moral lines being increasingly blurred in cyberspace, even by well-meaning Web users?
Lohrmann: The Internet provides an unlimited number of new possibilities in both positive and negative directions at the same time. People rename sinful or unethical behaviors in cyberspace. Plagiarism becomes “copying text.” Stealing becomes “downloading files.” Lying becomes “protecting yourself.” As these terms are inappropriately merged together, the lines between right and wrong become harder to recognize.
Q: How do you define “integrity theft”?
Lohrmann: Everyone is aware of the dangers associated with identity theft. “Integrity theft” is similar. But rather than your money or personal information being at risk from unseen hackers, it is your reputation, your career, or your important relationships that are threatened by online temptations to do wrong. As we surf the Internet, we are offered intriguing images, videos, and other content that vie for our thoughts, dreams, time, and money. We are enticed to act against our professed values and beliefs. While identity theft and integrity theft are both tragic, it is easier to repair your credit history than your reputation.
Q: Why is filtering software not enough for online protection?
Lohrmann: While Web filters are important for young children, most parental controls can be easily bypassed or turned off and many filters are not administered effectively at home or work. Addressing lasting integrity requires that we go much further and look at heart issues, personal values, our habits, and the accountability processes we put in place. Moving forward, we need to rethink our entire approach to dealing with all types of online temptations that are embedded within popular Web sites.
Q: How has surfing the Web while at work become an ethical issue and what advice do you give to avoid career pitfalls?
Lohrmann: I’ve seen people sacrifice a lifetime devoted to their profession in exchange for a brief online experience. Considering hot trends like telecommuting, personal and professional life now flow together as never before. I urge honesty of online identity, self-examination, transparency, and answering probing questions like: What if my boss or company president knew everything I did online? Will I view my surfing habits as positive or negative five years from now? How can I help others who have gone astray?
Q: How has Web marketing tracked and targeted web users?
Lohrmann: When we go online, Web designers know where our eyes are drawn and what appeals to various audiences. “Tempting the click” has become a science. Most popular Web sites have become very good at keeping track of who’s clicking and what. Using the information we provide in our personal profiles or hidden software called “cookies” and other tracking techniques, Internet portals can personalize what we see. Oftentimes, we are tempted to click on items that lead us down the primrose path. We end up somewhere we never intended to visit five minutes earlier.
Q: What is a “Google Rep” and what does it have to say about one’s presence online?
Lohrmann: Your “Google Rep” is your Internet reputation, and the Net has a great memory. So the online content about us, Web logs (blogs), pictures, some social interactions, and more are often available via a Google search. Just go to Google.com or your favorite search engine and type your name and see what comes up. Again, this can be good or bad thing for you—depending on what you find. Most employers now check your “Google Rep” during the hiring process. Remember that even your company and church have a “Google Rep” that they want to uphold or improve.
Q: What kind of helpful technology do you recommend for aiding our pursuit of online integrity?
Lohrmann: You can apply Web filters, adjust security and privacy settings on browsers, ensure that you use safe search features (available for free at sites like Google) and apply accountability software such as “Covenant Eyes” to keep things working effectively. The Internet is very complex with no simple fixes to stop temptations for surfers. I discuss the future of the Internet in the final two chapters of the book with some exciting new technologies and “what if” approaches that may help.
“Daniel Lohrmann offers a splendid survey of the many benefits and drawbacks of cyber-technologies. Parents, pastors, and employers will gain ‘virtual’ wisdom amidst today’s ethical quandaries.”
—Quentin J. Schultze, Calvin College
“Lohrmann reminds us that integrity on the Internet involves more than purchasing a family friendly filter. He wisely connects virtual with embodied reality, challenges us to ‘surf our values,’ and then packs his book with practical ways to do just that. This book inspires and empowers us to bring every corner of our virtual world under the Lordship of Christ.”
—Michael Wittmer, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
“Dan Lohrmann is a leader in the information security field and his extensive knowledge is demonstrated throughout the book. Protecting ourselves from the dangers that lurk in cyberspace has to be a multifaceted approach. Lohrmann’s book, Virtual Integrity, describes one approach in depth and challenges us on how to explore cyberspace safely. Lohrmann offers his insight and passion to his readers, and is an excellent role model.”
—William Pelgrin, chair of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center
“Lohrmann’s Virtual Integrity succeeds on three important levels—personal, corporate, and national. Written by a person of solid professional credentials and proven integrity, this book is a roadmap for the future of the Internet. The Internet still is, and will continue to be, the Wild West. No government is going to control it, so it is up to us as individuals to protect ourselves. However, we as individuals need tools to do that; Lohrmann provides those tools clearly and concisely. More important, Virtual Integrity offers a solid roadmap, grounded in universal truths, for corporations and governments alike. You don’t need to be a Christian to benefit tremendously from Lohrmann’s book.”
—Peter Stephenson, chief information security officer and associate director of the Master of Science in Information Assurance program, Norwich University
“With unlimited users, content, and the public’s freedom to post virtually anything, we must be vigilant in our approach to using the Web as a valuable resource. This book is a great education tool that takes a unique look at the personal responsibility required of all of us as we utilize the power of the Internet. The book provides perspective, not just about security, but also about our role in the new world of using the Web as a tool for communicating, collaborating, creating, and utilizing information. Dan Lohrmann provides practical steps to address the concerns of parents, educators, government officials, and community leaders.”
—Teri Takai, chief information officer, State of California
“The Internet has brought the world to our fingertips; unfortunately, it can also take our eyes, our minds—and ultimately our character—places we should never go. While much has been written about the need to protect our identity in this brave new cyber world, little has been said about how to achieve this. Dan Lohrmann shows the way in Virtual Integrity.”
—Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council
“Virtual Integrity is a book that should be read by every parent, teacher, church worker . . . everyone using the Internet. This book will pose many questions concerning your use of the Internet; you will be introduced to a whole new language and set of challenges. But Virtual Integrity also offers solutions. Lohrmann teaches us that, as Christians, we have the responsibility to navigate the virtual world with the same values we use in the real world.”
—Lindsay Conway, secretary to the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness and director of Social Service (Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
“Virtual Integrity takes us from what is to what can be the future. The author, an expert in his field, takes us beyond security for ID theft to the more vital integrity theft—and this we do to ourselves. But there are ways to keep ourselves people of integrity and it starts with commitment. This book offers any number of practical ways to secure our ID, ensure our children’s safety, and keep ourselves faithful to our faith and family. An excellent book with lots of practical suggestions, helps, and links.”
—Carolyn R. Scheidies, idealinhope.com
“Many parents are looking for ways to guide and protect their kids in this Information Age. We want our children to be well educated and cyber-savvy, but there seem to be unending online dangers and digital distractions. Without a doubt, technology is changing rapidly, and living with around-the-clock Internet access brings new opportunities and challenges…So what steps can parents take to help their kids appropriately engage the World Wide Web and social media? Reading and applying this booklet is certainly a good start.” -Dan Lohrmann (from the Foreword)
This guide will help you probe deeper into some of the hard questions and the corresponding answers that you will find in Virtual Integrity. These discussion questions are designed to be used in a group setting with two or more readers. The guide will be most useful to book clubs and reading groups or in church settings such as Sunday school classes.
On January 16, 2011, Daniel Lohrmann gave a presentation to students at the Center for Ethics and Public Life at Luther College in Decora, Iowa. Mr. Lohrmann talks about the importance of applying Christian ethics to online and offline life. (This recording is courtesy of Covenant Eyes Radio.)
The following is documentary footage for Scratching the Surface, an independent film initiative aimed at connecting people with key champions from the battlefront against pornography. It is from the makers of Willful Entrapment, cinematic expression on pornography and its addictive, destructive nature.
Dan Lohrmann discusses the online dangers you and your family need to know about.
Dan Lohrmann talks about seven habits we need to put in place in our online lives so that we can consistently “surf our values.”
Dan Lohrmann is a proud user of Covenant Eyes Accountability Software. He explains why on page 145 of Virtual Integrity:
What is accountability software? Put simply, this software sends a report of all your Internet activities to your trusted accountability partner(s) to check up and provide metrics on.
If this software is used by choice and not force, it can provide a powerful disincentive to viewing unacceptable material and surfing your values. Since there are many circumvention technologies available, this approach can end the natural tendencies to get around filters…
The first accountability software company was Covenant Eyes.
Visit CovenantEyes.com to learn more about how Internet Accountability can help you defend, develop, and demonstrate your integrity online.