Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
Texas Farm to Market Road

Saturday, June 26, 2004

How to Protect Your Identity...Kinda

Any one who uses the Internet to make life easier, like online shopping, banking, paying bills, communicating with friends, etc, will sooner or later become the victim of it. When your email address comes to the attention of the bigtime spammers -and believe you me, it will- your mailbox will fill up with junk mail. But this is the mildest form of torment you can get from the Internet

If you are the type that opens attachments, or have your email program set to automatically open attachments, you will get a virus on your computer. Viruses (Viri?) range from pesky to life (style) threatening.

An example of a pesky virus is the one that causes your screen to display some words announcing that your computer has been invaded by a really smart hacker. See how smart I am! I made your computer do something I wanted it to do!

An example of a life threatening virus is the one that embeds a program to record all your keystrokes, then emails the file to another computer where the hacker deduces your username and the password to your banking account then sends most of it to his offshore account in the Bahamas. This is known as identity theft. You are so desolated by suddenly becoming a pauper that you wash down a bottle of aspirins with a fifth of vodka. After they rush you to the hospital and pump your stomache, you are in a coma for two weeks. When you come out of it they kick you out release you to the street and present you with a bill for $275,000. No longer suicidal, but not having a whole lot to live for, you wander the streets until you are beaten to death in a dispute over a bottle of Mad Dog wine.

Then there's the trouble some people get into when their real name and place of residence is easily available on the Internet. They get the attention of some nut and become stalker prey with the outcome ranging from irritation to murder.

How can this be avoided? This how to avoid most of the bad consequences of being connected:

1. Set your email program never to open attachments automatically
2. Set your email program to only recieve plain text.
3. Never open an attachment unless you have recieved a phone call from someone you trust saying "I'm gonna send you an attachment...."

1. Create many email addresses for yourself. Keep the one you are required to create by the Internet Service Provider to yourself. That way the only correspondence you'll get on it will be from your ISP.
2. Create another address and give it only to close friends and relatives.
3. Create one to use when you are registering for stuff online
4. Create one to use when you are registering for free subscriptions online. (More on this later)
5. If you register for a free blog, create a special address for that.
6. Wherever possible, use a Hotmail or Yahoo address. When they get too full of spam, abandon them and create a new one.

1. When registering for stuff online, use a fictional name and address and memorize them. Then vary the age, gender, and birthdate. Use these personas until you feel the need to create a new one.
2. When registering for free newspaper subscriptions, use the name of the newspaper for your first name. For example, the New York Times is www.nytimes.com therefore your first name would be Nytimesdotcom.

The purpose of all these fake personas is confuse the hell out of anyone trying to build a character profile using this information. I know, they tell us that the info will NEVER be revealed to another soul. But that data stays around forever, at least for the rest of your life anyway, and they aren't always going to be around to protect it. If the company gets sold, the database goes with it and the new owners can do whatever they want with it!!


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