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Challenging Paranoia July 24, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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paranoia   Paranoia can be justified when those who attack and malign are getting a public forum courtesy of online newspapers and silly publishing houses that publish vile silliness from people who do not deserve the courtesy of being named.

This morning, a colleague called to express concern that someone was sending pornography from his computer. Another called to express concern that his machine had not been turned off properly. He wondered if I took such concerns seriously. I was in his office with half of my forensic team within a minute of the report.

A quick glance at the error message in the e-mail showed that my colleague’s address had been ‘spoofed’ by a spammer. Send a message to one person in a list and use the next person in the list’s e-mail address behind which the spammers hid. The list the spammers were using was probably about sixty thousand names long. The names cited in the hidden fields of the e-mail suggested an alphabetical list of victims to spam and there was enough space between the names that one could make reasonable conjectures about the total number of names in the list. I am probably off by a few thousand on this particular list but it was not a primo sales gimmick. It was just sad ugly pornographic trolling.

The other colleague turned on his power strip and his compute fired up. This was out of his regular sequence and it disturbed him to think someone may have been using his machine over the weekend. A quick look on a log of activity stored on his machine revealed nothing had happened. He recalled being distracted when he was shutting down on Friday, so perhaps he had disrupted his routine.

Perhaps it is time to study the impact that anonymity, identity theft, and the lunatic ravings in chat rooms and discussion lists is having on our ability to trust our fellow human beings.

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