I am fascinated by the ‘dark side’ of the Internet. Maybe that’s because I was here (wherever here actually is), back when it all began… or close to it.
How long ago was that? My first surfing of the Internet was done with a browser (Lynx) that only saw text – no images, much less multimedia content. I remember sending a technical comment to Yahoo!. The person responding (get an actual person to respond today) said he’s pass it along to “Jerry.” He was talking about Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s co-founder.
The Internet was trustworthy. In fact, many of the Internet’s biggest weaknesses are caused by the innocence of software coders who didn’t feel it was necessary to verify much of anything because it was a relatively small group of American geeks – mostly affiliated with colleges, universities or the military.
When I send email from home on my geofffox.com account, it comes from servers run by Comcast. The same mail, sent from work, comes from a server I use at 1and1.com (not the station’s mail server). I hardly ever use the server assigned to geofffox.com (long story about its dependability).
No one checks to make sure I really am entitled to use geofffox.com. I could use anything as my return address with little fear of getting caught or suffering consequences!
It’s that ability to do what you wish with little scrutiny that has allowed parts of the Internet to become a cesspool.
I am often call upon to fix friend’s computers that have slowed down, as if a computer was a mechanical device that doesn’t run quite as well with age. Of course the real reason for the slowdown is that they’ve been bogged down by hidden garbage on our trustworthy Internet
I read a long article, Invasion of the Computer Snatchers , in today’s Washington Post that shows how far all this scamming is going. It’s scary.
Compromised computers are turned into ‘bots.’ It’s the PC equivalent of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
As is so often the case with crime, a few criminals can affect hundreds or thousands of unsuspecting computer owners. And, since the thieves and scammers are giving away your time or money or convenience, they really don’t care how insidious their actions are.
What I don’t understand is why there isn’t a more concentrated effort to crack down on this crime? OK – maybe mere individuals don’t have much pull, but Citibank, Bank of America, PayPal and others must.
And, since at some point these transactions must lead to the movement of money – why can’t it be tracked down and stopped? I just don’t get it.
The Internet has such an incredible promise, which will never come to fruition if the net is allowed to remain the cyber equivalent of Times Square, circa 1975.