Internet Spying

With so many novices flooding the internet, what they don't knows exceeds what they do know by volumes that can only be considered encyclopedic. I've recently learned that HQ and my own personal terminal at home has become the subject of a great deal of foreign interest. This is to be expected of a web site but not on my personal station.
To date, this is a list of countries probing at my personal home computer.

Belgium
Sweden
Switzerland
France
Mexico
Brazil
Argentina
Australia
Israel
Denmark
Red China - Bejing
China at Taiwan
China at Hong Kong
Korea
Ukraine
Russia
Poland
The Netherlands
New Zealand
Finland
Malta
Spain
Austria
Italy
Panama
India
Chile
Bangladesh
Phillipines
Turkey
Morocco
Jamaica
Dominican Republic
Hungary
Chechoslavakia
Slovakia
Portugal
Greece
Peru

Looks like I'm getting to be a popular fellow.....

In the news today is an article where the F.B.I. has established an internet server called "Carnivore" for
conducting domestic spying upon the email of American citizens.  Can you really be surprised? Not long ago the IRS attempted to initiate a banking program called 'Know your Customer' where your local bank would act as an intelligence gathering agent for the IRS.  That program failed due to public outrage but other aspects of the 'spy' society are in place even though some circumvent these efforts.

A judicious person must accept that anything connected to a phone line is inherently insecure. Microsoft, for example, knows this and their employees are not permitted dialup access to the internet. Instead, communications are filtered through layers of security.

The average computer user at home or business doesn't have the first clue on how to go about securing communications. First, assume that none of your email is private. Further assume that the super duper encryption routines provided by browsers aren't secure. The algorithms for decoding such messages would have been handed over to any agency purporting to have a valid governmental interest. If you have anything important to say, you don't say it over a telephone line and the internet is nothing more than a network of telephone lines.

Now, to identify who is banging on your door, you need a firewall program. The best I've seen so far can be had
(free for non commercial users) at www.zonealarm.com. The software is nearly idiot proof. Actually, I haven't found the idiot factor yet. It's simplicity and ease of use is what I consider most remarkable compared to earlier efforts.

 Zone Alarm

The wares will generate a list of DNS entries of people who are 'pinging or fingering your system'. A ping simply tells them if you're online. A finger produces more information along the lines of who you are and where your are.
Zone Alarm runs in a 'stealth mode'. Once its identified an encroachment, it records the hit to a file, and gives you a real time alert to the attempt BUT it does not answer back. So the party on the other end fails to get an acknowledgment - you remain invisible.
 

The DNS is nothing more than an internet equivalent for a telephone number. Various agencies like Internic,
Arin, Ripe and so on keep a registry of these addresses. The DNS must be decoded in order to pull up the information on the other end user. A great freeware program that was originally intended for back tracking spammers performs the task well, Sam Spade.

 Download Sam Spade

Not only will you discover who is knocking from the outside, but who is transmitting from the inside of your system.
A lot of freeware on the internet contains 'spy bots'. These are programs that report where you go on the internet, your usage and habits to a receiving website. Currently these types of wares are legal and it is assumed that by using their freeware you've offered an implied approval. Zone Alarm slaps these transmissions down and blocks them. The program would have allowed me to identify the China Bug with much less effort than was actually expended.
 

Now, my comments are not intended to engender any type of paranoia. Personally, I don't really care who looks at me, my life would seem rather humdrum from what you'd be able to read off my computer. Any secrets I have, and they are few, are kept in my head and not on a disk. On the other hand, it serves no individual's interests to behave stupidly. Be aware.