Reformed criminal, cybersecurity expert speaks on social media in Big Spring

BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - Brett Johnson was a man who once found himself on several most wanted lists.

"The secret service called me the Godfather of the internet," said Johnson.

He said his life of crime started at an early age, shoplifting to feed his family, but once he discovered the internet he took things to another level.

"Credit theft, identity theft, tax fraud," he said, "the reason your tax returns are delayed every year, I'm the guy who came up with that scheme."

Though after several trips to prison, Johnson took steps to turn his life around.

Unable to find work, Johnson reached out to the FBI, one of the same agencies that had worked so hard to bust him, where he says was unexpectedly taken in and taught how to use his talents for law enforcement.

These days, Johnson consults for several tech companies including Microsoft and goes around the globe delivering speeches on the importance of cybersecurity.

A duty that brought Johnson to Big Spring on Wednesday, Johnson will take the stage at Howard College to teach steps you can take to protect your cyber identity.

When we caught up with Johnson, we asked him about the recent social media scandal involving Facebook and Johnson didn't hold his tongue when speaking about Mark Zuckerberg.

"He's polished, he practiced with all of his consultants, so he knew what to say, but he knew exactly what was going on, was agreeable to it, and wanted it to happen," said Johnson.

Johnson referring to the accusations Congress has grilled the founder of Facebook over the last two days, where 87 million users of the social media app reportedly had their information accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm.

These users allegedly freely gave out the information during a quiz, that didn't specify the details of how or where the information would end up.

Johnson says Congress is just now seeing the dangers of data mining.

"They just didn't understand that that information can be used to change a government, to begin a war," Johnson said.

Johnson said there's not only danger in what you engage with on social media, but also with what you post.

"When I was committing fraud it's all about seeing what social networks were out there, and seeing what kind of information people were sharing because that information is of a plethora of value find out all this stuff, from maiden names to birthdays, to whether your out of town," Johnson said.

Johnson says he understands people won't give up on social media,  but he just wants people to think twice about what they post.

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