If you excercise your rights of free speech and talk about community building, environmental protection, peace, animal welfare, democracy or anything else that might indicate that you could be a thinking and compassionate person, government agencies may be monitoring you.
It was revealed by the ACLU that the FBI has spied on Vegan Community Projects, Catholic Workers Groups, Peace Groups, Animal Rights Groups and Environmentalists. If you belong to Greenpeace, PETA or many other groups you can be targeted for surveilance. Members of such groups are monitored on a wide scale for tendencies to become more active. Their travel, purchases, bank records, telephone calls, Email and the websites they visit are tracked to assess the person’s potential opposition to govt. oppression.
What is not well known is the degree of govt. spying through the Internet. We have recently discovered that common security software actually facilitates intrusion into computers instead of protecting them. We caught Norton System Works 2003 indexing our hard drive and sending the data to a mysterious IP address. We uninstalled the program, wiped the hard drive and installed Windows 2000 again and then installed Norton System Works 2006 and found that our computer was repeatedly infected by a Trojan horse. A Trojan horse is a malicious program that is disguised as or embedded within legitimate software.
The trojan was traced to Norton System Works 2006. Once Norton was completely uninstalled the trojan infections stopped. Our experience shows that Norton System Works can be spyware itself and should never be used. However, It is possible that Norton software has to be activated or corrupted in some way to act as spyware and that not all Norton programs are spyware.
A couple of years ago we found a trojan that was connecting to a computer that was registered to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). We naively assumed that someone was merely using their network to access our computer without their knowledge. We didn’t think that the DIA would actively be involved in planting trojans into peoples computers to spy on them. Surely they would have better methods of accessing a person’s computer if they really wanted to – methods not so easily detected.
We called the contact phone number listed for the IP address and left a message on their voice-mail asking why there were accessing our computer. About 8 hours later we experienced missing time and all records of the intrusion vanished.
Not long ago I installed a program called System Mechanic made by iolo technologies, LLC. Without Norton System Works I needed something to keep Windows from crashing and to keep my hard drives defragmented. Not long after I installed the program I noticed that it frequently accessed the Internet for no apparent reason. I checked the FAQs on the manufacturers website and it said “System Mechanic will attempt to connect to the Internet to check for product updates, component updates, and spyware definition updates. System Mechanic’s health monitor will also connect to the Internet to perform various tests on your Internet connection and your connection speed, in order to compile your system analysis report. This is perfectly normal behavior and is in no way connected to any malicious activity or a threat to your system’s health.”
However, when I started checking some of the IP addresses that System Mechanic was accessing one address came up that belonged to the BBC. Since the BBC isn’t in the server hosting business there didn’t appear to be a legitimate reason for the program to access a BBC server. System Mechanica wasn’t accessing the BBC main site ” Internet connection and your connection speed” but was trying to connect to a non-public IP address. It is well known that the BBC is a front organization for British Intelligence Agencies.
When I contacted System Mechanic through through their technical support they wouldn’t tell me why their program was attempting to access a BBC server but assured me that it was legitimate. Since contacting them the program has not attempted to access the BBC site again. It now only accesses the IP addresses of 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. You can lookup IP addresses at http://www.arin.net/whois/.
If you use AOL software your computer is very much under its control. Even if you connect through an broadband connection AOL installs a spyware program called AOL Dialer that monitors every other program on your computer.
We are migrating completely away from Windows software to Linux. It is much more secure, more reliable and most of the software is free. SELinux is a Linux configuration developed by National Security Agency (NSA) that can be made even more secure, although the NSA can probably still get into a computer running SELinux but the average hacker would have trouble getting control of a computer running SELinux.
If you are interested in using Linux check out www.ubuntu.com. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that is totally free, highly stable and has great support. You can order a CD for free or download the program. Some Linux magazines have free DVDs or CDs with Linux distributions and programs.
If you are using Windows it is essential that you have a good firewall program like Zone Alarm. Be sure that you use the most secure settings and restrict all programs to only the access they require to function. Programs that are seldom used should be locked down until needed. Settings should be checked regularly to ensure that they haven’t changed on their own.
The best bet is to not have anything on your computer that you don’t want known to others. If you have something to hide you should have it on a computer that has no connection to the Internet and is never connected to the Internet or a computer that is.