The Internet can be used for multiple business and personal needs. From database research of dated and topic related articles to media viewing using the latest computer media software. E-commerce, e-business, and e-government all rely on the Internet for information relaying and retrieval. Many times individuals send information that is confidential to third parties. Confidential information can include personal addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other information that could be used in damaging ways if retrieved by the wrong individuals. Current online safety asks that information with credit card numbers, bank account numbers, home addresses, and other personal information, should not be sent by email to increase security. Even when a computer is just surfing the Internet, personal computer information can be detected from the surfing computer without the user even knowing. Author Peter Pietromonaco from the book "Cyber Security" comments, “You can actually be tracked from your mouse clicks; and the pages you read tell those vigilant individuals just what to sell to you, what to scam from you, and countless other private things (Pietromonaco, 1).” Advanced computer users are familiar with the smallest details of Internet Protocol. Sending e-mail is perhaps one of the common tasks of Internet users. E-mail travels across miles and miles of undetermined network traffic and router paths. E-mails must go through a Post Office Protocol (POP) were it can be either delivered immediately or post-poned for delivery. The hazards with e-mail involve third party user intercepting private e-mail using software that scans for keywords, names, and e-mail addresses. Internet marketers, use e-mail information to not only spam individuals but also try to scam the individuals as well. Spamming occurs when individuals gather multiple addresses and send out mass email messages to acquired detailed information lists. An instance of my own that I found particularly strange was an e-mail message I received asking me to become part of a list to receive cash for each person I could get to give their home address in return. The email asked that the participate send five dollars to all members on the current address list that came with the e-mail and add my name and address to the top of the list before sending the list to five to ten other e-mail addresses who would each be asked to mail all the addresses on the list including five dollars. The idea is to receive thousands of five-dollar bills in the mailbox over a period of time.
Many times personal e-mail addresses and other personal information are obtained from cookies, which are placed on the Internet users computer to track the computers activity while on the Internet. The information obtained from these cookies is then sold to Internet marketing lists that solicit sells and promotions. Author Peter Pietromonaco suggests several things to protect your computer information. Pietromonaco first suggests encrypting all e-mail messages that are sent. Encrypting uses formatting on specific software that also must be used by the recipient to decrypt and read the e-mail. Pietromonaco suggest simple things to fight spamming, such as never giving out your last name, home address, or phone numbers in chat rooms or bulletin boards, and not giving out screen names, user ID, or passwords to strangers.
Pietromonaco, Peter. “Cyber security.” Poptronics, Nov 2002, 10(2). Hauppauge. 23 May 2003.