Laremy Tunsil might have the distinction of being the only celebrity to claim “I was hacked” without lying, as our own website was quick to note. It’s the quickest, laziest, lamest excuse to toss out after, say, a direct message that wasn’t as direct as expected (see wretched Anthony’s Weiner) or a Twitter fav that wasn’t as invisible as you thought (see randy Kurt Rambis). It’s just part of the whole song and dance by now. The ritual of public embarrassment culminates in the sad search for a scapegoat—and, well, in 2016, you can always the looming specter of Hackers! Always out there to get you where it really hurts. Prying into your account just to smash the “like” button on some naughty content.
In Tunsil’s case, the material posted—most notably a video of him smoking some of that good-good—ran so counter all of Tunsil’s interests that we can feel safe pinning this on someone who hoped to undermine him. (Tunsil himself was also on camera doing all kinds of important draft day things that make it unlikely he was tapping away under the table to tank his draft stock. He seemed to learn about it at the same time we did.) That person, or someone with similar motives, already reached out to us.
We’ve already noted how pathetic it is that either of these issues—a college kid smoking a substance legal in much of this country, and getting money from his rich coaches to help his financial woes—even roil up controversy. But given these social mores, it’s a situation you want to avoid. It probably cost Tunsil millions of dollars as he slid several notches down the draft ladder. If you are a person of even mild relevance, or just anyone susceptible to blackmail, and you want to avoid getting embroiled in this wackness there are some simple steps to take.
This is a very good first step, good enough to deter any scrub “hackers.” Two-step authentication basically asks you to supply an additional nugget of information when you log into an account. Most commonly that nugget will be a series of digits sent to your phone by text message. Then, after you’ve entered your password, you just tap in those digits to verify your identity twice-over. At the very least, this will require someone to have physical access to your phone (or text messages) to start meddling with your accounts. Most of the important services you use include this security option, so get to two-stepping ASAP.
Beef up your passwords
That means use something cleverer than “ltunsil78" or “olemiss.” That advice seems too obvious to really harp on, but I’m confident that many of the people reading this still probably use a password comprised of their last name and birthdate, so just wallow in that embarrassment for a little bit. Let’s graduate from that amateur shit and try a password that is at least superficially more complex, using numbers, strange capitalization, other characters, without namedropping a predictable part of your life (pet, street, town, school). Though it might seem like a hassle now, with muscle memory it’ll come as naturally as any other password that might seem simpler to remember.
The next step would be to try a password manager, still a wise move even though they’ve seen the occasional breach in the past. You get one master password (yes, make it difficult to guess) for this service that automatically generates complex passwords for all your separate accounts. That kind of centralization might seem counter-intuitive, so just read here why it’s still the lesser of two evils.
Resolve your trust issues
Get to the root cause: don’t let the blackmail material come into existence in the first place! Be careful who sees you doing drugs. Wear a nice identity-obscuring mask when you do the drugs. (Tunsil, I guess, tried this, but, well, nevermind.) Go into a dark pantry when you do the drugs. Do the drugs before you hang out with people, because people are rats, and even when they aren’t, their phones might get compromised. Don’t do the drugs. Don’t welcome your pal who comes through the crib rocking Google Glass.
Figure out who you can trust, and even then, if you’ve got enough at stake, just confiscate their phones when you’re chilling with illicit things. As has been detailed at length, Tunsil had people in his life who wanted things from him, and perhaps thought they could use his draft stock as leverage. If you know you have haters and you know this might be coming, you’ve gotta be extra vigilant.