Don’t Be Careless With Your Email

dbcwyeWE’VE BECOME USED TO SENDING E-MAIL MESSAGES, connecting to the Internet, and logging on to our office computers from the road. It’s such a regular part of our day that we don’t worry about whether we’re vulnerable to the same cyberpunks who hack into corporate computers or steal credit card information. Could it happen to you? Perhaps.

It turns out that just about everyone who exchanges files faces a growing security problem, especially if you answer yes to any of the following statements.

* You handle sensitive client data on your PC.

* Your business maintains data on a PC that competitors would like to know about.

* You offer clients or coworkers remote access to your home system.

* You send a credit card number over e-mail to make a purchase.

* You access the Internet or a client’s intranet.

* You regularly use e-mail.

Don’t be too alarmed by the last two items. The kind of Internet connectivity you make and the material contained in …

Anonymity: The Web’s Double Edged Sword

atwdA COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, 500 PEOPLE ON AN INTERNET mailing list received the digital equivalent of an obscene phone call. They opened their e-mail and out popped a series of digitized photographs of a woman having sex with a bull. Some of the recipients of these obscene images were children and teenagers. A brief note accompanying the images said, in effect, “Ha ha, you can’t catch me. I’m using an anonymous remailer.” But as a result of either the sender’s incompetence or a technical glitch, the note was accompanied by the sender’s e-mail address. It did not take long for the mailing list administrator to trace the address to a computer user near Oklahoma City. The young man is in big trouble and deserves every bit of it.

History does not recall the date of the first obscene phone call, but one can speculate that it occurred shortly after the automated switchboard replaced the local operator who knew the voice of everyone in town.

One can …