The Great Digital River of Life

On August 8, 2003, in Original Blog, by Roger Born

Yeah, you swim in it every day, if you own a computer and have a dial up or some such connection to the Internet. You and I can’t help it. We have to at least cross it to get to the other side of where we are going, if nothing else.

Spending time on a computer today can be compared to nothing better than taking your life in your hands when you cross a moving river, one that is full of moving junk and debris, and where the water contains obvious filth and toxic elements. Your wife and children have to swim in this stuff too.

Then too, you or a member of your family might get swept away by the strong currents there in the river. People do get hooked on things on the Web, don’t they? Anyone can get caught up in spending inordinate amounts of time (or money) on EBay, Instant Messaging, Downloading “Free” Music, Porn, the list is almost endless. What happens is that they spend less time with their families and friends, and with living a real life.

What exactly is this great Digital River? On your computer it accessed by your email and your BROWSER. This river is a virtual divide, the confluence of the dregs and the sleaze of humanity that you and I navigate with mouse and keyboard.

You feel dirty just touching some of this stuff, don’t you?

Truth is, its almost all bad. There is never any reason to click on a POP-UP or answer SPAM. Or haven’t you figured that out yet? If you do touch it, the least that can happen is that you will get a lot more Pop-Ups and Spam. The worst is that you might get a nasty Computer Virus for your trouble.

A particularly nasty thing you can touch in this digital river is one of the latest new PC virus, Bugbear.B, which infects your computer when you open an email containing the virus, or when your version of Microsoft’s Outlook email client hasn’t been updated to patch a two-year-old flaw. The virus
installs a “back door” to allow some intruder’s software access to your
computer in the future; and the virus runs a program to record and store
what you type on your keyboard; and then it spreads itself through email, network-shares and modem connections.

This virus affects home users more than companies, which is not normal for a computer virus. The worst of it is that Bugbear B disables the anti-virus capabilities of your computer and will bypass your already running anti-virus software altogether. In spreading, the virus will grab a legitimate email from your in-box and send that out with itself attached to some new recipient. In some cases, the original email it uses could contain information that you might not want the new addressee to read.

Then there is the Slammer virus, and the Code Red virus or Nimda worm . . .

What? You use a Macintosh? — Never mind!

Huh? You also never use Microsoft products? Well, in this case, congratulations! You are already much wiser than the majority of the computer users out there.

However, if at work, you are forced to use a computer from the dark side while you attempt to make your living, you have legitimate reason to sweat! A computer from the dark side is a PC running Microsoft software, and if you use/own one, you should be afraid, very afraid!

You still have to swim the great Digital River of Life, even if you own a
Macintosh. Why? There is all that Spam you get, isn’t there? – and all those annoying Pop-Ups, or Pop-Unders, which you will have to click off repeatedly when you close your browser. Your email, even on the Mac, is also bloated with spam too.

Why is there so much Spam? Why is there even more of it, day after day? It’s profitable for the people who send it out. If only a small fraction of the people respond to it, those kind folks who sent it your way will make money from it. Essentially their profit is free money, for they had to do little to earn it.

Think of them as fishermen along the shore of the great Digital River. Believe me, they never have your best interest in mind, standing there with their nets, their hooks and lures, waiting for you to innocently or curiously to open their email. Yeah, these guys know there is a sucker born every minute, and somebody will open their junk. If nothing else, they will have a thousand more email addresses to sell to other Spammers when they sit down to their computers in the morning.

Just opening their Spam might send them a message about you, whether you answer it or not. Just reading it could taint your computer and guarantee you will receive even more Spam and Pop-ups thereafter!

What can you do about it? Just delete it when you see it in your email program. Also find and clean out your Cookies periodically. Yet even doing this household cleaning will not affect the way some of this filth affects your computer preferences, unknowingly set to preferences by these sleaze balls that you are unaware of. Nor will it rid your computer of semi-invisible applets and applications that were put on your computer without your knowledge or permission.

Another simple thing you can do is not to PREVIEW your email when you get your mail. This keeps some Spam software from downloading information to your computer, or getting info from your profile. I know it is convenient to preview what you are getting, but first DELETE your Spam, then open your email.

You want to swim the river, right? You need to see and talk to your friends and family along the shore, and conduct business with people living on the Digital River? You have to be ever vigilant and on guard to the harm that can come to you and your family, or to your employer, through the Internet today.

In fact your life on the Internet is not very much different than the life your ancestors lived on the frontier of this country, fighting hostile natives and wild animals. This is a plain and sad fact of life, and you may have noticed that your benevolent and protective Government is doing nothing about it, but in fact is busy looking the other way. Therefore, in many ways you and your family are on your own on the Digital Frontier.

Yeah, history shows that eventually the government will step in and clean it all up, but that might take a few decades or so, and you can’t wait.

Time to find a Davy Crockett or a Daniel Boone to help out.

What software do Spammers use? Here are some of their resources, so you can know your enemy. Just don’t use any of their products, or you will become a spammer. Desktopservershop, Themoneyebook, newfreeware, afreego, and unisyn is a good example of this kind of software, although you might not know it from their website, for they are cagey about what they do, but study their feature list and you will understand what sort of software they are selling. Their site is like a tutorial for Spammers, but you will have to surrender your email address to access any of it.

Why is Spam so bad? Here is a good article about it.
http://spam.abuse.net/overview/spambad.shtml

How can I really get back at these Spammers? Here are some links that might help.
http://www.techtv.com

http://news.com.com/2104-1028_3-1016779.html

http://www.panix.com/~eck/telemarket.html

http://stop-spam.trexcatnip.com

http://law.spamcon.org

There are also new communities that might help you and your family bridge the great digital river of life and be better informed about things like spam and viruses.

http://www.learnthenet.com

http://www.globalschoolnet.org/gsh

http://www.geek.com

http://www.zeal.com

http://www.isoc.org

http://macslash.org

http://slashdot.org

Here are some more links and articles to help you out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk

https://www.techreview.com

Finally, here are some ways you can block spam and viruses, but they all have a price in time or money, and none of them are perfect at what they do.

http://www.spamassassin.org

http://www.spamfighter.com

http://www.activestate.com

http://www.mcafee.com

Best of luck to you and your family in this new digital age we live in. I hope you and yours are survivors in the land of the free and the home of the brave!


Roger Born

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