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How To Frame Your Enemies On The Net 31 October 2000 Edition
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As well as the multitude of feedback published on yesterday's column I also received even more which were marked "not for publication."

Some of those other emails made the point that since authorities already have the right to tap phone lines, intercept postal-mail and bug your home -- what's the big deal over doing the same to your Net access or email?

Well quite frankly I think they have a point and I don't really have too much of an issue (so long as the proper checks and balances are put in place) with authorities having similar powers in respect to the Internet.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
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From Yesterday:

Email is "Record Communication."... - Rob

It's late in the day... - Ian

surveillance comment (exclusive) - Jenny

Don't you realize how vulnerable - David

Yet again our government proves - Spiro

If you have done nothing wrong... - Richard

As you have so obviously pointed... - Andy

It needs to be remembered... - Peter

Have Your Say

However, what really worries me about this proposed new legislation is the bit which means you have to hand over the decryption key for any encrypted items the authorities might wish to examine.

This ill-conceived piece of legislation would make it very easy to victimise anyone you didn't like -- and represents another shift away from what was the right of every citizen: to be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

It would appear that we must now prove we're innocent because the authorities will have a right to assume guilt if they find encrypted material in your mailbox and you choose not to hand over the key.

But here's how you can frame a friend (or enemy):

First, send the authorities an anonymous tip-off that someone's trading in kiddy-porn or drugs -- or has links with an active terrorist organisation and that they're using the Internet to do so.

Then, once the police have had time to start monitoring their email, start sending them encrypted messages through an anonymous remailer.

Naturally this will appear very suspicious to the authorities and they will demand that the recipient (your friend/enemy) hands over the decryption key for those messages. Of course they won't have the key -- but do you think the police/SIS/whoever is going to believe them?

Failure to comply with an order to hand over the keys will likely result in a jail term for contempt and long-term surveillance of their ongoing activities.

That's just one reason why parts of this new law are so lame.

Then of course there's the ease with which an encrypted block of data can be configured to hold two or more different messages depending on which decryption key is used.

One key will unlock that incriminating image or message, while another key -- the one handed over to authorities, will reveal only some other, completely innocent message. Both messages would be stored in the same encrypted block and how would anyone know that the unlocked message wasn't all that was inside the seemingly random array of characters that a block of encrypted data appears to be?

Sorry boys -- time to head back to the drawing board on that one.

When Advertising Kills A Website
Most of us have learned to live with banner ads on websites -- they're now a fact of life and the price we pay for having free access to so much valuable content.

Unfortunately for site operators, they can also kill a site stone, cold, dead.

I'm not talking about people getting annoyed with the flashy banners and deciding to strike a site off their bookmark list -- I'm talking about when the adserver responsible for delivering those ads dies.

As I trawl the world's online news sites each morning to find the most interesting and relevant headlines and links for this page it's not uncommon to find a page which takes forever to load because the computer serving up the ads is either unreachable or running very slowly.

In the past two days I've encountered this happening with the adserver at ad.nz.doubleclick.net which has intermittently affected the stuff.co.nz site. However, it's not at all uncommon to have one or more of the Australian sites I visit slowed to a crawl by similarly ill-behaved ad servers across the Tasman.

The ad.nz.doubleclick.net server or connectivity to it appeared so flaky last night/this-AM that I had been getting a "Connection Reset By Peer" alert box occasionally popping up after 30 seconds or so of waiting for the ad to load.

Annoying banner ads I can live with -- but when an ad really screws up the loading of a page, well that's enough to drive me away for good. On the Net, life's just too short to put up with such problems.

The Weekly
Yes, I know the first edition of the weekly has yet to appear -- but I'm still working on it.

Hopefully (if current leads pan out) it will include a very interesting expose' into the astoundingly bad behaviour of a group of local "new economy" company directors (some of who are also on the board of a public company). Just how competent and ethical are the managers of some of our hi-tech public companies?

If you want to receive the "all new" Aardvark Weekly in PDF format by email then please use the contact form to leave your email address.

You'll get a confirmation email within a day or two and you won't receive anything else unless you respond to that email to confirm your opt-in status.

As always, email addresses submitted for the purposes of receiving the Weekly will not be given away, sold, bent, spindled, mutilated or otherwise abused and you will not receive anything other than the weekly as a result of signing up.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

Security Alerts
Sun advises of a potential compromise of 2 specific security certificates (CERT)

IE 5.5 hole lets hackers read files (CNet)

Bug hunter finds another hole in Microsoft IE browser CNet

Microsoft issues new patch for Windows 2000 Telnet security hole (Computerworld)

Windows ME Bugged by Flaw (Wired)

Microsoft adjusts sign-on feature to patch Windows 2000 (CNet)

Virus Alerts
UBS warns of new virus (CNN)

Killer Virus Streaming Near You (InternetNews)

'Pokey' virus hits U.S. (CNN)

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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