Internet Security


Many people today are familiar with the Internet and its use. A large
number of its users however, are not aware of the security problems they face
when using the Internet. Most users feel they are anonymous when on-line, yet
in actuality they are not. There are some very easy ways to protect the user
from future problems.
The Internet has brought many advantages to its users but has also
created some major problems. Most people believe that they are anonymous when
they are using the Internet. Because of this thinking, they are not careful
with what they do and where they go when on the "net." Security is a major
issue with the Internet because the general public now has access to it. When
only the government and higher education had access, there was no worry about
credit card numbers and other types of important data being taken. There are
many advantages the Internet brings to its users, but there are also many
problems with the Internet security, especially when dealing with personal
security, business security, and the government involvement to protect the users.

The Internet is a new, barely regulated frontier, and there are many
reasons to be concerned with security. The same features that make the Internet
so appealing such as interactivity, versatile communication, and customizability
also make it an ideal way for someone to keep a careful watch on the user
without them being aware of it (Lemmons 1). It may not seem like it but it is
completely possible to build a personal profile on someone just by tracking them
in cyperspace. Every action a person does while logged onto the Internet is
recorded somewhere (Boyan, Codel, and Parekh 3).
An individual\'s personal security is the major issue surrounding the
Internet. If a person cannot be secure and have privacy on the Internet, the
whole system will fail. According to the Center for Democracy and Technology
(CDT), any website can find out whose server and the location of the server a
person used to get on the Internet, whether his computer is Windows or DOS based,
and also the Internet browser that was used. This is the only information that
can be taken legally. However, it can safely be assumed that in some cases much
more data is actually taken (1). These are just a few of the many ways for
people to find out the identity of an individual and what they are doing when
on the Internet.
One of the most common ways for webmasters to find out information about
the user is to use passive recording of transactional information. What this
does is record the movements the user had on a website. It can tell where the
user came from, how long he stayed, what files he looked at, and where he went
when he left. This information is totally legal to obtain, and often the
webmaster will use it to see what parts of his site attracts the most attention.
By doing this, he can improve his site for the people that return often (Boyan,
Codel, and Parekh 2).
There is a much more devious way that someone can gain access to
information on a user\'s hard-drive. In the past, the user did not need to be
concerned about the browser he used; that changed when Netscape Navigator 2.0
was introduced. Netscape 2.0 takes advantage of a programming language called
Java. Java uses the browser to activate programs to better enhance the website
the user was viewing. It is possible for someone to write a program using Java
that transfers data from the user\'s computer back to the website without the
user ever being aware of anything being taken. Netscape has issued new releases
that fix some but not all of the two dozen holes in the program (Methvin 3).
Many people do not realize that they often give information to websites
by doing something called direct disclosure. Direct disclosure is just that,
the user gives the website information such as their e-mail address, real
address, phone number, and any other information that is requested. Often, by
giving up information, a user will receive special benefits for "registering"
such as a better version of some software or being allowed into "member only
areas" (Boyan, Codel, and Parekh 2).
E-mail is like a postcard. E-mail is not like mailing a letter in an
envelope. Every carrier that touches that e-mail can read it if they choose.
Not only can the carriers see the message on the e-mail, but it can also be
electronically intercepted and read by hackers. This can all be done without