www.philianews.org

    January 2003

    Internet Security Information

    Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind when surfing around the net:

      1. Never give out your real name, address or telephone number to someone you don't know well. Even though you may feel you have nothing to hide, once something is on a Web page, it never goes away. Each time you release personal information, someone somewhere is reading that page. While most folks are friendly and don't mean harm, there are people out there who are collecting information and using it in damaging ways. For instance, there are cases of people collecting enough information on Web participants to get credit cards issued fraudulently.

      2. Each time you log onto the Internet, an "Internet Protocol Number" (IP address) identifies your computer to each Web page you visit, and with each E-mail you send. Depending on the kind of connection (a 56K dial-up modem, a cable modem or a DSL service) you use, your computer leaves information that gives either your approximate or exact location. You may not want strangers, however friendly, to have this information. This information can be tracked down even if you use such anonymizing devices such as proxies (www.anonymizer.com) and rewebbers (though with greater difficulty), so be cautious about giving information about yourself that you would not want connected with your real-life identity.

      3. Be careful with other people's information. Especially information you have gleaned in private contacts with a person. For example, email conversations should never be posted to a public message board without permission of their author. ICQ sessions are normally not published publicly either. People tend to say things in private communication that they would not want posted to a permanent, publicly accessible archive.

      If someone makes a request for an email address of an online friend of yours, offer to forward the address of the person requesting, rather than simply giving out the address of your friend (who may or may not appreciate having his or her address shared).

      When you send email to multiple recipients, learn how to use the BCC form rather than simply CC'ing the message and assuming that all participants were okay with you releasing their email address. Due to the amount of spam (unsolicited mail) arriving in email accounts these days, people appreciate this courtesy.

      4. In addition, persons who are exploring issues related to minor-attracted adults have particular concerns. Many adults who are attracted to minors are very anxious about revealing any personal details. Often it is best to use an online or web-based email account (see SafeMail reference below). Email accounts that are provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) with your Internet access can often reveal information about your geographic location. In some cases (such as colleges, universities, and large corporations) the information left behind can trace the user back to a specific department, or even desk.

    Most site owners and email recipients are not interested in the IP address, but if you wish to preserve your anonymity, you should examine the security measures explained in one of the sites below.

    Open Hands provides simple explanations of security issues and a glossary of security terms in its Focus on Internet Safety. A site for boylovers and girl-lovers, SafeMail, lists email services that protect your privacy; the site includes a clear description of what IP addresses are. In order to find out how much information your IP address reveals, visit Privacy.net's Privacy Analysis of Your Internet Connection. Consumer.net's The IP Address: Your Internet Identity offers more facts on how you can be traced. The EPIC Online Guide to Privacy Resources, published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, lists links to privacy sites on the Web.

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