Data Privacy, Information Security

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s that time of year again, and old Saint Nick is back to deliver toys and sample tasty cookies left for him on his travels across the globe. With so many homes to visit, there are a lot of cookies waiting for him of all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Fortunately, Nicholas is impervious to viruses like Covid-19, so he has no qualms gobbling down the many treats he finds along his journey. It’s no secret to him that there have been lively debates in online forums for many years now discussing how in the world he could possibly make the journey to so many homes in just one night (and eat so many cookies). However, neither the jolly, old Saint nor his most technically savvy elves know that there have been plans brewing on the dark web to gather data to determine when and where Santa makes his deliveries.

A lively debate begins to brew in one online forum of #NorthPoleTruthSeekers.

ElfSlayer1225: NORAD’s Santa Tracker is a hoax perpetrated by the Big Toy Industry

FrostyFanatic: How can you be sure? Surely if NORAD can detect ballistic missiles, it has the capability to track flying reindeer pulling a sleigh through the skies!

AnonymousThere has to be a way to figure this out

FrostyFanatic: Well, how could we possibly even find this so-called Santa if he could be anywhere in the world at any time on Christmas Eve? It’s like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle; the moment you try to determine where he is, you don’t know when he is, or vice-versa. I dunno, the whole thing makes my head spin.

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: I’ve been following this forum for a while now but never felt a need to contribute given all the half-baked conspiracy theories folks like ElfSlayer1225 love to espouse

ElfSlayer1225: 😠 Great, we’ve got a troll on here. The truth is out there, you’ll see! Say that again and I’ll rip you off that shelf 🗡️ elfie!!

ElfOnShelf: 🧝🏽: Look, no offense, I’ve actually got an idea and I need everyone’s help.

Dasher16: Ohh, not a reindeer trap, I hope

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: No of course not… no animals will be injured in this experiment

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: Here’s what I propose. I’ve actually been tinkering with this for a whileYou know how Santa loves those cookies sitting out for him every year. He scarfs them all down at every house he delivers presents. How he does it, I have no idea. And somehow he deactivates any cameras or recording equipment so we never see it happen nor can we pinpoint the time of his arrival. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’m not called ElfOnShelf for nothing!

FrostyFanatic: Haha, so how can we help?

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: Ok, so do you know how tracking cookies work in a web browser because my idea kind of goes something like that? When you go to visit a website, it will store information on your computer called cookies which allow it to basically identify you on subsequent visits and monitor your behavior over time. There are many other advanced methods of attribution as well but I digress. Now only the site you’re visiting can see that cookie data when you go to it, but sometimes these sites also use 3rd party services like Google and Facebook to track your behavior on their site. And since most sites use these trackers, those 3rd party services can then see the flow of your traffic across many pages on the web and begin to build a map of where you’ve been and when…

Dasher16: I think I see where you’re going here, we’re going to follow the reindeer droppings so to speak 💩

FrostyFanatic: Or the cookie crumbs, hehe

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: errr, yeah something like that…. Anyway, imagine now that instead of browser cookies we put real trackers in the cookies left for Santa! I’ve found a programmable nanochip that can be exposed to liquids and extreme temperatures. Perfect for baking into your favorite cookie recipe. Before you know it, Santa will be loaded with them. They’re super cheap and all you have to do is order them from this site and then download my open-source code to program them with you’re unique location data. Once swallowed the nanochips will record the time and voila, we have the information we need!

ElfSlayer1225: Alright, maybe you’re on to something here but you’re missing something too. How are you going to actually get the data off the chips?

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: good question, so unlike when a person visits a website, we can’t just record the visit on our server. We need a way to read the chips. Fortunately, the chips work on a short-range Bluetooth connection. And since we know that Santa will visit every home to deliver presents, then each time he visits a home and he has some trackers in his belly, we can scan the chips and get a status on each place he visited and when. Plus! We’ll get the data of when the scan took place to cross-reference it against the other data. So, each one of you will also need to turn on Bluetooth on your mobile or computer and run my other open-source software that will scan and aggregate that data to this forum in real-time so we can see the results. With this we can compare to NORAD’s data and see if NORAD really is a hoax!

ElfSlayer1225: NORAD is a hoax! Send me one of those chips ASAP, can’t wait to prove it! So, what are you going to do with the data once you have it?

ElfOnShelf 🧝🏽: Sell it to BIG Toy! Cha-ching! 💰

And thus, the commercialization of Christmas was finally complete thanks to the always watching eye of an elf on a shelf and a little help from the North Pole Truth Seekers. For the price of accepting a few “harmless” cookies Santa had unwittingly sold himself out. ElfOnShelf sold Santa’s secrets to the highest paying data brokers and lived happily ever after with a private island in the Caribbean.


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