Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #64 January 7, 2005
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GOCS -The Greatest Security Program Ever!

While  we were discussing Internet security, spyware, adware, viruses, Trojans, worms, hackers and the like one day, it suddenly occurred to us that we had, by accident, found something that could protect our computers better than any single software program, hardware device or operating system. We couldn't believe it when we discovered it. It was so simple, so compact, and completely free! We found a program missing from seemingly millions of computers and had we not stumbled on it by accident it may still lay dormant in some far-off place. But, serendipity prevailed and we discovered GOCS ..the single greatest program to keep your computer secure and your data safe! In fact we discovered it many years ago but just now realized the importance of our discovery.

Like all great discoveries; hamburgers, hotdogs, Grip-N-Flip, etc., this one just came to us in a flash of inspiration. If we could sell it we'd be richer than Bill Gates. If we could get everyone in the world to use it, the world would be a better place. Our discovery, you see, not only works in the cyber world, it works in the 'real' world as well. If used correctly it would revolutionize the world.

We can't sell GOCS. We can't even give it away free. You already have it. And many of you already use it. But a lot of people in the world don't. I am not sure they even have it.

What is GOCS? It's Good Old Common Sense.

The conversation we had which gave birth to this great discovery centered around a bet. I bet I could remove all my anti-spyware, anti-virus, and security programs and still surf the 'Net, use email and not get any viruses or spyware on my computer. I would be protected by good old common sense and using a computer updated with the latest security patches. But wait, don't try this at home. I'm not really going to try it either. The gist of my statement was that by using nothing more than GOCS and Windows updates to protect me I would be fairly safe on the sea of scum.

Every morning when I scour through the hundreds of emails that come in overnight, I see a plethora of emails with worms attached. I wonder how could someone have been so naive as to have be induced into clicking on an attachment and infecting themselves? Or, how could they still be prowling the Internet without keeping their computer updated with the latest security patches and without an updated anti-virus program (or worse, an outdated anti-virus program). Where's the common sense in that?

Here's another example. This one deals with identity theft. Identity theft is a growing threat, I'm sure you're all aware of that. One thing I don't think many people are aware of though, is that identities are rarely stolen they're freely given away. It seems to me that "identity theft" is more theft by deception than out and out robbery. CNN, Fox News, CBS, NBC, ABC, and other news organizations make identity theft seem like it happens because hackers break into your computer and glean all your personal data from it; then merrily proceed to become you. This is not how it usually happens. Here's how it really happens.

John Doe receives an email from his bank, "Citibank". The letter is addressed to his email address and looks just like an official Citibank Email. It starts with:

"Dear Citibank Customer:"

OK, let's use an analogy. Let's say you had a regular (snail mail) letter addressed to "occupant" from your bank. Then, you opened it up and it said "Dear (name of your bank) Customer". And, this letter told you they were updating all of their accounts for security reasons and needed you to complete the enclosed form and mail it back to:

Your Bank
PO Box
Some City, Some State, USA

And the enclosed form asked for your name, your social security number, your driver's license number, your spouse's name, your credit card numbers, your date of birth, your account passwords, and your current address.

GOCS tells you that your bank wouldn't send official and important and sensitive email  addressed to "occupant" nor would they begin the letter with "Dear (name of your bank) Customer". It would be addressed to you and it would say "Dear Mary Jones:" or "Dear John Smith:" Yet, everyday on the Internet, thousands of people give personal and confidential data to unknown entities in "Phishing" scams. The information that these people freely provide is the information used by criminals to steal identities. Why do intelligent people who have lots of common sense in the "real" world suddenly become bereft of common sense and intelligence when they traverse the Web? Do you think it's screen radiation? :-)

Finally, let's discuss something more and more of you are hearing about lately. If you have been on the Internet in the past three months at all you've heard about it. I'm talking about "Firefox" (the browser). News reporters, geeks, and techies of all types would have you believe that Firefox is almost as important as the abolition of the income tax (please!).

Facts: Firefox is a nice browser. It's probably as good as Internet Explorer. It does things that Internet Explorer doesn't do. And, Internet Explorer does things that Firefox doesn't do. Firefox is not going to protect you from viruses and security holes. Firefox was created by The Mozilla Organization. They have twelve paid employees and rely on volunteers to fix bugs and security holes. There are currently four unpatched security holes in Firefox (see www.secunia.com ). Firefox is used by approximately 15 million people. Internet Explorer is used by 150 million or more.

Those are facts. We are not against Firefox. We are against people installing it because someone told them it would keep them safe. It won't. We are against people installing it and using it as their default browser and installing the email client "Thunderbird" and then writing to us and wondering why we don't make stationery for Thunderbird. Or why our stationery doesn't work in Thunderbird. Or what's wrong with our stationery ..all of a sudden it doesn't work? (because they changed to Thunderbird). If you like our stationery, Funletters, and QuickNotes, don't switch your email client to Thunderbird, because it won't work. That's just "Gold Old Common Sense".

No program, browser, operating system, or computer is going to keep you safe and secure. You wouldn't leave your doors unlocked at night, you wouldn't leave your keys in your unlocked car in a large city, you wouldn't stand in the bathtub and plug in an electrical appliance, you wouldn't light a match if you smelled gas fumes; we use our common sense in "real" life every day. But, for some reason, when some people get on the Internet they don't have any common sense at all. So they look to one program or another to fill in the gap that was created when common sense was thrown to the wind. They look for the magic panacea to make up for their own carelessness. But, there is no magical program that is going to save you from yourself if you don't use the same common sense on the Internet you do in your life in the "real" world.

The single most important thing you can draw upon to protect yourself on the Internet is the same thing you have (hopefully) been drawing upon for years to protect yourself in the real world:  Your own "Good Old Common Sense".

Keep your computer updated with the latest Windows updates, use a good anti-virus program and keep it updated; install a good third-party software firewall; use a good anti-spyware program (or better yet - two or three good anti-spyware programs); and above all, bring GOCS with you when you are on the Internet.

Tell us what you think! Please

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