Techie alert: Even you can be hacked

    Date11 Jun 2004
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Consider the dangers inherent in this idea, both to privacy and to common decency. Should we all be hit with higher ISP bills because some people can't be bothered to install an AV system that autoupdates? Should we ask ISPs to snoop our traffic for our own good?

    "So how do Internet users protect themselves? First, users should read that tedious small print in the contract with an ISP. If it says there's a monthly limit on the amount of bandwidth you use and that you are solely responsible for all Internet activity, then look elsewhere for service. Second, ask whether the ISP offers help for machines infected with a virus." . . . Jim Carroll was stunned when Rogers Cable told him it had received a complaint that a hacker was using his Internet address.

    Must be a mistake, he told Rogers, his Internet provider. Then a tech helper at the company walked him through his setup and discovered that indeed, he had inadvertently left his business Web server unprotected. It was what is called an "open relay." Someone found it, posted Mr. Carroll's address on more than 100 Russian bulletin boards, and soon hundreds of people were using Mr. Carroll's machine to surf anonymously.

    Mr. Carroll thought he received the nice treatment from Rogers because he is a noted high-tech authority, public speaker and author of the book, Surviving the Information Age. But the Rogers support technician was just doing his job, a job that's becoming routine among larger Internet providers -- policing subscribers who don't know their computers have been hijacked or hit with a virus that turns them either into open relays or spam-serving "zombie" machines.

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