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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Dark Side of the Internet Age

When I got out of law school in 1980 law firms were still using IBM mag card systems for word processing. A secretary typed on a traditional typewriter - IBM Selectric, I think. Each secretary had a large, heavy cabinet sitting beside her desk, filled with a bunch of wires and circuit boards. I got my first personal computer sometime around 1985, and it was a 'portable' Compaq that weighted 35 pounds and was on rollers. Lawyers still dictated all their briefs, motions, memos, letters and so on into bulky tape recorders.

Many people haven't successfully made the transition from the 'stone age' to the internet age. It's just too easy to fire off an email or make statements on Facebook or Twitter without thinking through the possible ramifications. Criminals monitor Facebook looking for personal information so they can steal identities, or rob your house while you're sunning on the beach. A new scam is to email or call you and say it's your grandaugther, locked up in a jail in Turkey or some other hell hole, please wire bail money. This week all the lawyers in Kerrville got one supposedly from a local lawyer who had her luggage with all her money and passport stolen and needed money to fly home. There's a thousand mutations of the Nigerian scam.

National Security Agency has a massive facility in San Antonio next door to a Microsoft facility that handles most of the internet traffic in Texas. NSA computers read it all.

Then there are the criminals who can take over your computer without you even knowing it.
zombie computer (often shortened as zombie) is a computer connected to the Internet that has been compromised by a crackercomputer virus or trojan horse and can be used to perform malicious tasks of one sort or another under remote direction. Botnets of zombie computers are often used to spread e-mail spam and launch denial-of-service attacks. Most owners of zombie computers are unaware that their system is being used in this way. Because the owner tends to be unaware, these computers are metaphorically compared to zombies

I bet you didn't know that your account with Amazon.com may be an open book to anyone. Unless you specifically alter the security settings, people can see what you've bought, your wish and purchase lists, and even all the things you have browsed. I almost posted a link directly into my account trying to just do a link to the book mentioned above.

I'm still trying to figure out how to make all my data secure, and when I learn enough to share any useful information will write another post on it.

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