An internet Lent.

By now, even I have almost forgotten I used to like PCs, and that I was a Computer Science major for a year and a half in a former life. I wanted to be a gargoyle. I knew what the Fraunhofer codec did, and it involved
command-line instructions, and took 27 minutes for a 3-minute song, darnit.
There was a time I fancied myself a wired girl of sorts, and during that phase I learned to whois, traceroute, ping and reverseDNSlookup. These used to be command-line as well; nowadays you can just drop by
DNSStuff, which feels like the Google of ‘net utilities.

Like an unwitting Hansel, you drop all kinds of data about yourself when you’re surfing. All someone with a
little knowledge needs to do is connect the cookie crumbs. I was able to trace a fledgling DoS attack before that way.

On one forum I now frequent (of course it’s about fountain pens), someone claimed identity theft when forum members started posting about sending that person pens and dollars, expecting pens in trade, and receiving nothing. He said someone had probably gotten into his computer, gotten his Paypal password, his email password, and posed as him to get the pens and the money. The forum administrators banned him because they found out the supposed impostor and he were posting from the same IP address. Then he logged in again from another site, tried to explain himself and said the impostor had left all the pens in a
box in front of his door and he was going to return them, and the money. The forum administrators acted to intervene. People on the forum are now waiting for their pens to return in the mail, but they now are much more wary about transactions. The forum had run on an honor system before – it required full registration, and many members knew one another outside of the forum. Now,  everyone’s just trying to move on, albeit with dents, dings and cracks.

Anonymity is both the web’s greatest boon and bane. You require no permission to be anonymous. You can be anyone you want, and pose if you must. And yet the anonymity is all on the surface. If you understand the way the ‘net works, you’ll never feel safe enough.

(Well, unless you pony up $29.99 for Anonymizer’s Anonymous Surfing package every year. You have to be on Windows. Oh, and your activities pass through Anonymizer’s servers, so who knows – can that information possibly still be subpoenaed?)