January, 2001- Various Topics

In this issue:

  1. Secure Yourself Online
  2. Cover Your Tracks
  3. When Your Child Is A Little Older
  4. Can You Imagine Working For This Company?
  5. Appropriate Quotations
  6. This Month's Promotion - Residency Program

1.Secure Yourself Online

Simple things you can do to safeguard your privacy.

Surf Secretly Start your surfing (or searching) at SILENTSURF.COM or ANONYMIZER.COM. In order to move around the Net anonymously and prevent sites from collecting info about your Net hangouts and habits.

Opt-Out. Check the box that prevents a company from gathering information about your surfing and buying patterns. Just Say No. Doublecross DOUBLECLICK by opting out of their program linking your ad clicks to your interests. Go to [ doubleclick.net/ company_info/about_doubleclick/privacy/privacy2htm ]

Build a Wall. Have a DSL or cable connection? Install a basic firewall program, such as Norton Personal Firewall, so that no one will be able to infiltrate your computer using Back Orifice or other hacking programs.

Test Yourself. Take the SHIELDS UP! diagnostic [grc.com], software developer Steve Gibson's free online test of the vulnerability of your machine.

Block Ads. Go to JUNKBUSTERS and get Guldescope. which blocks cookie dropping banner ads, thereby speeding up your surfing.

Get Smart. The ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION [eff.org] and the ELEC-TRONIC PRIVACYINFORMATION CENTER [epic.org] provide solid privacy information.

For kids or Net newcomers, an overview on protecting online rights can be found at SITE SEEING ON THE NET [ www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/online/sitesee ]

Be Paranoid. Use software such as Tweak UI to clear your tracks automatically every time you log on to Windows. Click Start at the bottom of your screen; select Settings, then Control Panel. Click on the Tweak Ul icon, and select the Paranoia tab for a host of options. Don't have Tweak UI on your PC? Try CNET DOWNLOAD.COM.

2. Cover Your Tracks

Hacked and attacked, one man fights back and takes a stand against an army of invaders.

Not long ago, cable modems made a triumphant arrival in my part of the Northeast. My neighbours and I eagerly signed up for high speed Internet access. But it also worried me. Unlike my dial-up connection, my cable modem would be constantly connected to the Internet, which is the same thing as saying that everyone else on the Net would be constantly connected to me. As a journalist, I had written articles about companies, universities, and government agencies besieged by online intruders. But did I, as a simple citizen, have reason to worry? Yes and no.

I was initially concerned about pale, asocial crackers breaking into my system and trashing files. I wasn't panicky, because instead of throwing out my old computer I saved it to store my financial information. This old machine, which is never connected to the Internet, is safe from attack. But I had no desire to have people rummaging around my hard drive. Like everyone else, I loved my new high speed access. Although I saw no visible sign of crackers trying to take over my computer, after a few weeks my festering anxiety impelled me to buy a firewall: software that screens out unwanted incoming traffic.

Because I had heard good things about NETWORK ICE'S BlackICE Defender (and because it cost less than Symantec's Norton Internet Security), I downloaded Blacklce for $40. (Fans of William Gibson's Neu romancer will recall that ICE stands for Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics.) Wondering if I was being foolishly paranoid, I installed the software and ran it. Within 30 seconds, it had detected someone probing my machine. Actually, that was atypically fast. BlackICE usually observes people jiggling the doorknob of my computer just three to five times a day. Still...three to five times a day.

Amazed, I asked seven computer professionals about their experience. All but one had similar stories. One man with a dial-up connection had even recorded scattered attempts to break into his machine during the brief periods when it was connected to the Net. Who was trying to break in? Many of the miscreants are my neighbors-members of my own cable system. In a way, this is unsurprising: My cable provider has its own firewall, which presumably screens out outside attacks; consequently, crackers who operate from within the network have a better shot at breaking into my computer.

My computer is more secure than the vast majority of PCs, or so says SHIELDS UP software developer Steve Gibson's free online test of the vulnerability of your machine. So far as I know, not one of the intruders has succeeded in breaking in. This is partly because BlackICE parries attacks and partly because most of my attackers are incompetent. Many are script kiddies-the digital equivalent of monkeys on typewriters. Using software picked up in the kind of place on the Net that only teenagers have the time and energy to find, they sift through hundreds of IP numbers (the "addresses" given to every machine on the Net) for computers that other crackers have already broken into and installed software that allows outsiders to control the machine.

Unfortunately, defending against the script kiddies comes at a price. BlackICE-like other commercial firewalls-is easy to install but hard for novices to configure. After I installed it, I decided to hook my family's computers into a small network -an option popular enough that Windows has a specific set-up for networking, called Microsoft Family LogOn. Initially, BlackICE made Family LogOn much more difficult, because it interpreted every attempt to move files in and out of my computer as an attack. Each time I opened up a directory in another computer, BlackICE froze my machine. After many reboots, I learned how to configure the firewall, but the troubles dampened my ardour.

That's what I call the Security Dilemma: The more secure a machine, the harder it is to use. Installing a firewall is like putting on a suit of armour. You're protected against random assault, but you don't move very quickly. The trick is to balance defence with mobility. Because I had my family's most important data stored on a machine with no Internet connection, I decided to leave the rest of our network relatively insecure. (For Internet purchases, I use a credit card with a $400 limit. Credit card companies by law can hold you liable for only the first $50 in illegal charges, but a low limit stops the perpetrator in his tracks when he goes to buy that $1,000 stereo system.)

I felt pretty comfortable until I learned about the other kind of undesirable Internet activity-the outgoing, rather than incoming, traffic. An astonishing number of companies use tricks to make computers send out information about their users. The efforts go far beyond the now notorious misuse of cookies, the tags added invisibly to a special file consulted by the browser. In their default configurations, RealNetworks's RealDownload, Netscape's Smart Download, and the NetZip Download Demon report to corporate headquarters the identity of every file that is downloaded using them. Some companies, including Quicken and FedEx, place tiny, transparent one-pixel-by-one-pixel images in Web pages and e-mail that can track who is reading them. Scores of software companies use "spyware," which gets downloaded along with their products and which sends back to headquarters information about the user's actions.

Even Mattel Interactive, as Simson Garfinkel wrote in SALON.COM, used the computers on which children played its Broderbund CD-ROMs to send out information without informing the kids or their parents. Game companies seem particularly prone to spyware. When my teenage son downloaded Steve Gibson's free (for now) OPTOUT software, which detects and expunges spyware, he found half a dozen spy programs from games he had downloaded. But the use of spyware is rapidly spreading beyond games. In July, an antispyware Web site listed more than 400 suspected corporate users of spyware. The thought of staying on top of the constantly changing world of Net security is indeed daunting. And there's no question that maintaining control of who's running your computer requires time and effort. But the alternatives are either giving up the Web altogether (a lousy option) or giving up control of your machine.

It's comforting to realize that with a little prudence and work, I was able to get a thumbs-up from Shields Up, via the recent message: 'All attempts to get any information from your computer have FAILED." Then, soberingly, it added: "This is very uncommon for a Windows networking-based PC."

CHARLES C. MANN is the author of®Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion and a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.

3. When Your Child Is A Little Older

Editors Note:

An acquaintance of mine who is now an "Ex- American" sent this to me the other day. I had run across the article quite awhile ago and enjoyed it. I can not recall where it came from or who the original author is. I apologize for not giving credit where credit is due. However, the impact of this article is now more relevant than ever before, especially if you are still living in the USA. I know you will enjoy it

When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax system in a way that is easy to grasp and will allow him to understand the benefits.

Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he has mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is income tax. Give $1 of this to his younger brother, who has done nothing to deserve it, and tell him that this is "fair" because the younger brother 'needs money too'. Also, explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative costs of dividing the money and for various other things you need.

Make him place his $5 in a savings account over which you have authority. Explain that if he is ever naughty, you will remove the money from the account without asking him. Also explain how you will be taking most of the interest he earns on that money, without his permission.

Mention that if he tries to hide the money, this, in itself, will be evidence of wrongdoing and will result in you automatically taking the money from him.

Conduct random searches of his room in the small hours of the morning. Burst in unannounced. Go through all of his drawers and pockets. If he questions this, tell him you are acting on a tip-off from a mate of his who casually mentioned that you had both earned a bit of spare cash last week.

If you find it, confiscate all of that money and also take his stereo and television. Tell him you are selling these and keeping the money to compensate you for having to make the raid. Also lock him in his room for a month as further punishment. When he cries at the injustice of this, tell him he is being "selfish" and "greedy" and only interested in looking after his own happiness. Explain that he should learn to sacrifice his own happiness for other people and that since he cannot be relied upon or trusted to do this voluntarily, you will use force to ensure he complies. Later in life he will thank you.

Make as many rules as possible. Leave the reasons for them obscure. Enforce them arbitrarily. Accuse your child of breaking rules you have never told him about and carefully explain that ignorance of your rules is not an excuse for breaking them. Keep him anxious that he may be violating commands you haven't yet issued. Instil in him the feeling that rules are utterly irrational. This will prepare him for living under a democratic government.

He is too young to understand the benefits of democracy, so explain this wonderful system as follows:

You, your wife and his brother get together and vote that your son should have all privileges removed, be caned, and confined to his room for a week. If he protests that you are violating his rights, patiently explain his error and tell him that the majority have voted for this punishment and nothing matters except the will of the majority. When your child has matured sufficiently to understand how the judicial system works, set a bedtime for him of, say, 10 p.m. and then send him to bed at 9 p.m. When he tearfully accuses you of breaking the rules, explain that you made the rules and you can interpret them in any way that seems appropriate to you, according to changing conditions.

Promise often to take him to the movies or the zoo, and then, at the appointed hour, recline in an easy chair with a newspaper and tell him you have changed your plans. When he screams, "but you promised!", explain to him that it was a campaign promise and hence meaningless.

Every now and then, without warning, slap your child. Then explain that this is self defence. Tell him that you must be vigilant at all times to stop any potential enemy before he gets big enough to hurt you. This, too, your child will appreciate, not right at that moment, maybe, but later in life. If he finds this hard to accept, you can further illustrate the point as follows.

Take him on a trip across town with you, to a strange neighbourhood. Walk into any random house you choose and start sorting out their domestic problems, using violence if that is what is required. Make sure you use overwhelming force to crush the family into submission - this avoids a protracted visit and becoming involved for long periods of time. Explain to your son that only a coward stands idly by whilst injustice is happening across town. Tell him we are all brothers and problems left to fester will eventually spill over into your neighbourhood.

Use some of the $5 you took from your son as bus fare and to purchase a baseball bat. Drink a bottle of whiskey and then lecture him on the evils of smoking dope. If he points out your hypocrisy remind him that the majority of people drink and that, as already explained, the needs of the majority are the only moral standard.

Break up any meeting between him and more than three of his mates as being an 'unlawful gathering'. If he strokes the cat without the cat giving its express permission, slap him hard for feline harassment. Mark one designated spot in the yard where he can leave his bike. If he leaves it anywhere else, padlock it and demand $50 to release it. If he offends more than three times, confiscate the bike, sell it, and keep the money.

Install a CCTV system in your son's bedroom and also record all his telephone conversations. If he protests, accuse him of having something to hide. Explain that only criminals seek privacy and that good, dutiful children relinquish their privacy in exchange for the advantages which protective parenthood offers. Remind him of the boy across town who was caught smoking dope in his bedroom by just such a CCTV system, and explain that this case justifies installing CCTV in all teenagers' bedrooms.

Lie to your child constantly. Teach him that words mean nothing - or rather that the meanings of words are continually "evolving", and may be tomorrow the opposite of what they are today. Have a word with his teachers at school and ask them to share any merit marks your son achieves, with any ethnic minority students who did not get any merit marks.

If he questions this policy, explain that long ago we abused the ancestors of these people, and so it is only fair that he shares the merits around to compensate their descendants. This is also probably a good time to tell him that his energy, talent and enthusiasm will not secure him a job if the quota of such 'abused' people has not yet been filled.

Tell him talent stands for nothing - it is fairness and sharing which are important. Remind him that his primary duty is the happiness and welfare of people he does not know, and will never meet.

Ban cutlery from your home and make your son eat with his fingers. If he asks why, remind him of the youth who stabbed a cat to death last week with a fork. Explain that if just one cat is saved by the banning of cutlery, then this prohibition will be worthwhile. If he protests, question him closely about why he is intending to kill innocent cats, or accuse him of being a cat hater.

Issue him with a pass card which he must show before he can enter the house. Stand guard at the front door. When he comes home, politely but firmly take him into the spare room and question him about his movements. Ask him how much cash he has on his person. If in excess of $50, confiscate the lot as it exceeds the house rule for maximum cash allowed. Then search his rucksack and pockets. To keep him guessing, do the occasional strip search. If he protests, detain him for longer and make the search more thorough. If he gets really angry at this, hold him in a locked room until he misses his next outing or party.

If these methods sound harsh, I am only being cruel to be kind. I think it is important for children to understand the nature of the society in which we live. I hope you found that amusing. I did when I wrote it, but on second reading, I feel a bit sick. It makes the point too plainly to avoid.

Editors Comment:

Over the past five years, I have been noticing a trend. Americans are starting to leave the USA- permanently. Can you see why? I have consulted and advised a few of them. I think I will be getting busier in the new millennium. See the special promotion at the end of this newsletter for one idea.

4. Can You Imagine Working For This Company?

It has a little over 500 employees with the following statistics :
  • 29 have been accused of spousal abuse
  • 7 have been arrested for fraud
  • 19 have been accused of writing bad checks
  • 117 have bankrupted at least two businesses
  • 3 have been arrested for assault
  • 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
  • 14 have been arrested on drug related charges
  • have been arrested for shoplifting
  • 21 are current defendants in lawsuits
  • In 1998 alone, 84 were stopped for drunk driving.
Can you guess which organization this is? Give up? It's the 535 members of your United States Congress. The same group that perpetually cranks out hundreds upon hundreds of new laws designed to keep the rest of you in line.

Editors Comment:

This speaks for itself. See previous article.

5. Appropriate Quotations

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods. --H.L. Mencken

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." --Thomas Jefferson

"In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me." --Rev. Martin Niemoeller (sent to Dachau, 1938)

6. Western European Residency Program!

Please give serious thought to the following offer. Yes, it is a high priced item, but well worth the investment. Our newsletter this month talked more on a philosophical and "big picture" level than usual. We targeted residents of the USA because their plight is the worst from a privacy and freedom point of view - and most of them do not even know it. Try to imagine what your world (country) will be like in the next ten years with respect to the articles presented this month. Do you really want to be tied to your one passport? This offer is an opportunity to get a second citizenship the slow but sure way - by establishing residency. We have a contact in said country that will personally hand hold you through the maddening red tape and paperwork required to do it right. What normally would take you months of time and thousands of dollars in hotel costs and dead end information from the mostly outdated government agencies can be accomplished in about two weeks. That is all we are going to say for now. The special promotion for newsletter subscribers ONLY is a discount on the $400 application fee. We will take your application and divulge the entire program details for $250. This offer expires January 31, 2001. Please read on for the basic information this offer includes.

This brand new residency program leads to naturalization, i.e. CITIZENSHIP with a valuable western European Union passport in a few short years! In brief you are required to travel to this European country to establish legal residence, obtain your resident papers, documents and tax ID number, etc. You should plan on a week to ten working days to accomplish this. For a preliminary application, please remit US$400 and contact me, "John Bull by facsimile at international dialling code + 358 925 360 050 or Reach us via e-Mail The total cost of this residency program is US$10,000 and, naturally, your US$400 preliminary application fee is applied towards this should you elect to proceed. DO NOT ask us for the name of the country. This will be disclosed when you have submitted your preliminary application and after we receive your US$400 fee. Any inquires requesting the name or other information's about this residency program PRIOR to our receiving the $400 fee will be disregarded. NO EXCEPTIONS. Please do not waste our time and yours otherwise! This is a serious program for serious parties only. You can contact us by facsimile at international dialling code + 358 925 360 050 or Reach us via e-Mail

NOTE:

Products offered and special discounts mentioned in the archived newsletters may not still be in effect. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us at privacy@privacyworld.com .