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Network neighborhood watch

Very rarely do I get the chance to read books that can entice me strongly enough to take action. The most recent one I read is Internet Forensics: Using Digital Evidence to Solve Computer Crime by Robert Jones (ISBN 0-596-10006-X, O’Reilly Media).

The popularity of the Internet has resulted in a sad development — the proliferation of spam or unsolicited e-mail. Worst, fraud or misrepresentation is also happening. This is where we receive e-mails from senders that pretend to be from Citibank, PayPal and eBay, among others, tricking us to change our password or update our account information. This is now also referred to as phishing.

For those of us who know well enough about this, we delete them right away. However, there are those who open it and fall into the trap of opening lewd attachments or responding to requests for more personal information.

As a result, government agencies began receiving complaints from people who ordered products that never arrived and those about websites that ceased to exist following certain transactions.

Robert Jones’ book encourages Internet users to take action. It encourages the building up of communities of people who can be proactive in detecting spam and fraud and share information to generate further awareness on these plots to victimize innocent Internet users.

His book teaches Internet users how to dissect e-mail, websites and documents to detect spam sources, fraud, spoof or misrepresentation, among others. To further increase your knowledge on this subject, there are several websites that one can refer to, such as the Spamhaus project (http://www.spamhaus.org), Anti-Phishing Working Group (http://www.antiphishing.org) and Digital PhishNet (http://www.digitalphishnet.org), among others.

In 2001, I remember becoming a victim of fraud or misrepresentation. A local Internet user sent me an email promoting several product lines all being marketed by one company. This person even sent the e-mail to my own discussion group where my e-mail address is allowed to post messages without moderation. After that experience, I had to moderate my own messages in my forums.

Although this may not necessarily result in Internet users like us pushing for prosecution, spam senders can be prevented from doing this to others. They will have to think twice about the risks they are taking, especially after they are put in a hotlist.

If a complaint shall be made again regarding a fraud signature similar to what happened to me, I will not hesitate to cooperate with the investigation. This is the reason I never deleted the spoof message in my discussion group. It is being reserved for that purpose.

Recently, there’s a prominent pseudo hacker who have been publicly embarrassing various websites with their weaknesses.
However, perhaps their popularity have gotten into their heads and they started hacking into websites that are direct competitors of the enterprise that they are working for.

As there’s always a signature or trace of the perpetrator in a crime scene, the last thing one wants to do is mess around with a competitor’s Internet servers. They won’t do it for the money but simply to ruin the reputation of a business competitor, because its (competitior) unethical (even criminal under the E-Commerce Law) practices may be worth it.

It is time to take our Internet back. The more vigilant Internet users will be in combating cybercrime, the less liberty unscrupulous individuals will have in hurting future generation of Internet users.


By Janette Toral
Digital Filipino

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