HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

Nobody ever tells me anything, so I have to make a lot of guesses to explain the things I see happening around me. This is one of my wilder guesses. I started looking this stuff up when I discovered some of my email was going astray and has been for some time, possibly years. By the way, if you think you've been corresponding with me, you might not have been. I've talked with people who sent me email that never reached me. None of them told me that they recieved any replies to the errant emails, however. Also note that I never use instant messaging. If you've been communicating with me by instant messaging, that's not me.

So I was looking up security issues to try to resolve my problem and I found this. I pass it on to you, as if you don't have enough to worry about.

Has this ever happened to you? One day you discover that you are a person of interest in not one criminal case, but hundreds of them. A list as long as your arm ranging from poaching to arms dealing to drugs from one corner of the earth to another, from the coldest to the hottest most exotic regions of the globe. More crimes than any human being could commit in a lifetime, but you did it all since the first of the year. You think you're a soccer mom, but Interpol has proof that you're actually Lex Luthor running a global criminal enterprise. They have thousands of emails detailing your exploits, all traced to your computer, and although they haven't been able to catch you actually doing anything other than coaching your daughter's soccer team, they're sure that your system of offense/defense and player substitutions and your seeming-innocent accounts of league business contain secret coded messages to your international minions who do your criminal bidding.

Sounds like a premise for a movie.

At any rate, the authorities make sure you know you're being observed every minute of every day. Sooner or later you'll make a mistake and then they'll land on you like a ton of bricks. You proclaim your innocence, but emails detailing criminal activities keep showing up traced to your computer.

Well, according to what I looked up, all those law enforcement resources are being wasted. This is a new trick the bad guys have come up with. This is happening to people all over, and law enforcement hasn't caught up with the bad guys yet.

Your computer's serial number goes out every time you visit a website or send an email. It's the least private thing about your computer. It identifies everything you do on the internet.

What has happened is that some bad guy has picked up your computer's serial number and created a facsimile of it, a number that isn't the same, but looks identical on paper. They do this by replacing the zero's with o's and the o's with zeros. Then they register the doppelganger as a domain name. The Web won't let them register your serial number, but the facsimile has a different alphanumeric format due to the substitutions. It no longer looks like a serial number, so they can register it as a domain name. They don't have to hack into your computer or plant a virus or a trojan horse or route traffic through your computer or anything. All they have to do is get you to send them an email.

Then they send their criminal messages, routing it through the facsimile domain, and it looks like it came from your computer. The crooks do their thing and implicate innocent people, which means the authorities spend all their resources in the wrong place.

All the authorities have to do to prove your innocence is check the serial number stamped on the criminal emails and determine whether the zero's are really zero's and the o's are really o's. Then, once they discover the facsimile domain name, they can more easily trace the actual criminal traffic to the actual criminals, assuming of course that they registered the facsimile domain names under their own identities.

RTJ--8/24/2008


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