Nothing is Free on the web! Well, very little anyway. The TCP web site is
one of the very few anymore. The web started out with a reputation
for free ideas and information and that notion has stuck beyond
its use. Think about it though. You hear that companies
like Google are rolling in $$$ and yet their search engine is
free. According to one source, Cnet, of the $66 million
dollars that Mozilla corporations made in 2006 (owners of the
popular browser FireFox), $56 million came from Google.
That is how much it was worth to Google to embed their search
bar into the browser to direct your searches and track your activity.
Some charge that Google is not free in any sense. Have you tried
to get to www.google.com, the American site? Try it, bet you
cant do it. It will say you can, it will even supply a
button to do it but more than likely when you select it, it will
go right back to www.google.com.au. (This is for Australian users)
Just like China, you are not privy to whatever the rest of the
world sees. Search results appear to be tailored to the
desire of the clients who bid the most.. whoever that might be.
A letter was sent from TCP twice to Google in California asking
if it was true that Google suppressed or enhanced normal search
results for money in Australia and if the Australian government
was a client. They declined comment. A search engine can make
money from presenting you to the highest bidder, by suppressing
targeted sites, and from collecting your every move whilst using
their program, to name just a few.
A group in Germany (University of Hannover) started their own
search engine. It is called MetaGer (www.metager.de/i/) and is
very basic but harmless as far as we know.
Every web site has the ability to know your individual IP address
if they want to. That means they can know where and who you are,
full stop. A search engine knows your computer and its
location, what you look at and saves that information. If they
wish they can sell your private information to anyone
willing to pay.
Nothing may be more costly than a FREE program.
If in doubt...DON'T! The description given to you about a program
may be little to do with what it really does, after all, you
wouldnt do it if you knew it was spyware. You may think
it was a neat little photo gallery system... well that too, but
its main job may be to infiltrate your computer and provide
a permanent portal into it that activates every time you go to
the net. Notice that your computer is running slower than it
should? Then chances are you already have someone elses
program running on your computer. Once that program is installed
the owner may collect your data or sell access to your computer
to anyone. And just because it comes from a big business name
means nothing. How come the disc of photos from the biggest name
photo business insists on installing it's program in spite of
the fact permission is refused? And every operating system has
a perfectly good photo viewer? Spyware. If you suspect a problem
on a windows computer, while it is running slow for example,
press the keys, ctlr, alt and delete. A screen will pop up. Click
"applications" and it should tell you any program currently
running. However.. much of the really malignant stuff
is running in the background and can only be seen on the "Processes"
page of your task manager. There are programs that will identify
the source of those items and give you the option of deleting
them but we haven't researched enough yet to recomend a particular
program for this.
Updates... especially critical updates... 98%
Bullshit! Some vendors purposely sell their programs with
defects so that you are required to install an update early on
to fix it. This ruse allows the vendor to know the computer that
the licensed program is installed on and prevents multiple and
unauthorised use. Some vendors do improve or respond to a particular
threat and provide a download via their web site. These improvements
will be available for you to install voluntarily but rarely is
there a need to update automatically and daily is absurd. Everybody
wants to get in on that action. TCP bought a cheap printer for
printing out emails at a cost of $55. The program that came with
it was desperate to have me allow automatic updates.
The sales value of the access was probably worth more to the
company than the profit in the hardware. When you allow an update
you are opening a portal into your computer.
"How come the cheaper memory sticks have a program on them
and the dearer ones don't?" Good question... think about
it. TCP does not use the cheaper"U3" sticks.
Anti-virus software.. 95% bullshit! Paying to have
"Norton Anit-virus" put in your computer is like tipping
a mugger. One persons spyware is another persons anti-virus
program. For purposes of this discussion lets define spyware
or virus as a program that shows any of these three traits, 1,
the official description of its function as supplied by
the source of the program is incomplete or deceptive. 2, the
program may install itself without direct and clear invitation
to do so. 3, Once installed will not allow complete uninstall
by normal means, ie,add, remove programs file. Many
of these so-called anti-virus programs are spyware with just
enough stated function to provide legal cover. The worst computer
damage I have seen that I could attribute to a particular piece
of software was from one of those $40 antivirus things that people
will buy when they pick up their new computer or buy when they
already think they are in trouble. Doomed! The minute you load
that its a problem but when the thing takes you to their
security centre on the web it is often all over except
What about email?? The best way to describe email is that
it is very similar to the idea of sending mail through a conventional
post office except your mail is not enclosed in an envelope!
The system that most of you use is called Simple Mail Transport
Protocol or SMTP. Some email can be improved in security
but unless it is encrypted, none of it should be considered secure
or private. Any person in the various servers along its
path can read or edit anything you send or receive. Any entity
that gets their hands into your computer via any of the methods
above, or that invades your server can access your email files
and do what they like including... Modification, anyone along
the way can edit or delete your mail. Identity theft, sending
mails as you. This is happening a lot and one of the reasons
TCP has a new and more secure email address and system. If you
receive a mail addressed from someone you know but includes a
link on the message to a web site, it could be a hi-jacked email
address. I'm very suspicious that some providers of "FREE"
email sell their lists. Also be aware that "Gmail"
and others may scan your mail for key words and save the data
for directing advertising or..?
Repudiation, because normal emails can easily be tampered with,
no email can be regarded as genuine in any legal or important
sense. Anyone on either end can claim anything they want and
there is no way to prove either way.
Do not forward "chain letters"!! At least not
to me! Know someone that chronically sends you these things?
The ones in bold colourful print that say you must forward these
bits of shit to 'everyone in your address book today'! These
are typically originated or hi-jacked by spammers. These people
insure that every time the message is innocently forwarded it
goes back to them as well, with all the address's from your book
and they extract them and sell the list. Got mail trying to sell
you "viagra" or the other scams and cons? Wonder how
they found you out? Wonder no more. If you get something you
really think is cute and you just have to send it along... copy
the content of the message (provided it doesn't contain active
links) and paste onto a new message and put your contacts in
the BCC or "blind carbon copy" but please do not simply
press 'forward'. Nothing is for sure but that ought to do it.
You would be doing your friends a service to advise them of the
same if you send them such a message..
Have a built in camera on your computer? Do you ever do anything in front of that computer
while it is on and connected to the web that you wouldn't want
viewed by a stranger? Then you better get rid of it or at least
cover it. Before you start rolling your eyes and thinking.. Bob
has lost it!... I was voicing suspicion about this last year
and that's the reaction I got from some people... well, I told
you so! "Online voyeur gets four years over remote webcam"
That was the headline on ABC that got my attention. This particular
case came to attention because it involved an underage girl being
stalked by an adult man. He sent an email with a common 'trojan
horse' virus that hi-jacked the web cam on the computer in her
bedroom. The way he got caught was that he traced her phone number
and was stupid enough to try to contact her. Apparently it doesn't
take a genius to do this. How to assure security? Physically
covering the thing may be the most effective remedy after the
fact but the best thing is not to make your personal information
Be wary of those social networking sites and the programs
they offer! Google 'gadgets', gmail, iGoogle claimed to be hackers
delight! A recent convention of "DefCon", computer
hackers turned security experts, in Las Vegas USA, has claimed
that many of the programs associated with free web pages and
networking sites are notoriously easy to hi-jack so a "third
party can track activity or take control of users machines".
Once in they can make your machine run spam, "download child
porn or send subversive messages to China" or take your
email address lists and pass words... the lot.
What to do?!!? There is a lot you can do. First thing start with
a clean machine. Insist that nothing be loaded onto your new
machine by the dealer except the operating system. I prefer to
buy an empty machine and load the system myself. I believe some
dealers get paid to load rubbish on new machines. To guard against
virus/privacy attack your first line of defence is a good firewall,
no, not that poor thing that came on your Microshaft windows
computer. If you are connected via aDSL or dial up, your modem
should have a good one built in. If you dont know if it
has one, assume it doesnt and go spend the $100 or whatever,
to replace it. There is firewall software for sale or download
all over the place but... see the free program issues
above. Security programs are a favourite of the spyware crowd
as a means to infect you. Overall, do not ever allow a program
to install on your computer from the web... full stop. If it
comes on a disc I figure there is half a chance of it being OK,
but from the web about 1% chance!
Updates.. TCP computers are absolutely forbidden to allow
updates from anyone. If you wish to disable windows updates,
here is how. For you windows XP users, just disabliling from
the little panel on your desktop is not good enough. Windows
is full of redundant controls. To be sure to disable go to START>CONTROL
PANEL>ignore the security center icon and look
to left and see; SWITCH TO CLASSIC VIEW>ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS>SERVICES
(DOUBLE CLICK) which will bring down a list of program functions,
double click on automatic updates and disable. While
you are in there, if you have XP pro, you may have a function
called REMOTE REGISTRY Unless you are intending to
network your computer via the web, you may consider disabling
this function as it is intended to allow someone outside your
computer to run it as their own. Dangerous...
Anti-virus.. At TCP we use none. For a year now the 4 systems
we have that are exposed to the web have had no anit-virus program
BUT, we allow NO program to install. No flash players or photo
gallery's, nothing, we don't leave them connected and unattended
and our computers are perfect. If we have something we want to
open that's suspect, I start it on a non web computer where it
can't invite in trouble. There is a reason the virus programs
are called a Trojan Horse. Think about it.
Cookies.. These are small programs that a visiting web
site may try to launch into your computer to send information
back to the web site from your computer. Cookies sometimes have
legitimate use, such as a secured site that you interchange important
information on. They can help the site insure who it is communicating
with but usually they are just mild spyware. TCP web site will
never launch a cookie at you computer. If you dont know
how to stop cookies you should. TCP computers do not allow cookies
except for a few sites that have legitimate use. For Windows
Internet Explorer, see TOOLS>INTERNET OPTIONS>PRIVACY and
set the sliding control to "Block all Cookies". You
can always change it temporarily if you need to. Always delete
the cookies when done. See TOOLS>INTERNET OPTIONS>GENERAL
and delete cookies.
"System Restore" This is the one that can save
your butt. Windows computers can store your systems settings
so an introduced problem can be defeated by resetting your system
to what it was hours/days/months ago. This is one of several
ways to get at this important control. Go to START>SEARCH
and select, "all files and folders" and in the "file
name" box write, "system restore". By the way,
this tool can find anything you are looking for in your computer.
Click on SEARCH. Soon a line with 'system restore' will appear
in the window at right. Double click on the line to open or better
yet, left click and hold on the icon at the left side of the
line and "drag" the icon across the screen onto your
desktop so you can enter it easier next time. Open and click
on the line that says, SYSTEM RESTORE SETTINGS and make sure
it isn't turned off. I set the capacity at maximum. This window
carries clear instruction. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
What has TCP done to protect you and ourselves? TCP has
sacrificed considerable income from web ads to protect you. Google
ads and the like could present links on the web site that TCP
might consider inappropriate or dangerous, therefore they aren't
there. TCP is having second thoughts about the security of the
PDF reader we have had a link to, so am replacing it with a program
that functions better and can be loaded to a folder in your 'documents'
file, not requiring it to be 'installed' on your hard drive to
work. This new reader is downloaded direct from the TCP site
so no link to a place beyond TCP control. These measures have
cost TCP thousands of $$ and the favour of the search engines.
TCP computers use an operating system that is all but bullet
proof. We have a particular version of a Linux system that
allows web browsing and email, word processing, PDF reading and
making, photo editing, etc.. that is clean, simple, and very
robust. It can be run by itself or loaded onto Windows computers.
That way you choose what system you prefer at start up so essentially
you are running two computers in one. It takes the stress out
of the web! Data can be safely transferred from one side of this
"dual booting" system to the other. If you are interested
in this, send TCP $35 for the copying and mailing and we'll send
you a disc. (See the image below)The disc allows you to run it
to look it over before you install which you should do. Don't
take any ones word for anything, mine included. Assume there
is an angle and be suspicious..there is a fortune to be made
by plundering your privacy and the players are savage. "Only
the paranoid survive"!
The Coastal Passage
P.O. Box 7326