Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Email Issues and Security

There is an excellent post by Viviane over on the Carnival about a security problem with gmail. Please go read it, if you haven't already. Then come back and read this no matter what email client you use.

Most of us have more than one email account. At a minimum, I would guess that most bloggers have three: one for blogging, one for work, one for personal non-work/non-blog email. Most people probably have a "throw away" spam account also, used for registering for newspapers and the like online in order to manage the inevitable spam. In reality we probably all have more than that. Sexbloggers might also have a vanilla blog, many people might have a myspace or facebook page, plus we all have many old work or school email accounts.

Most of us know the usual advice about maintaining your anonymity while blogging: use an email address that you don't use for anything apart from blogging, one which isn't tied to your identity in any way.

But it's a huge pain to be logging in and out of multiple accounts all day long. It simply isn't feasible for most of us. So most of us probably set up our accounts to forward all email to a single account.

The specific problem Viviane has written about has to do with Google Mail. You can avoid that problem if you never enable the Google Mail function that allows you to reply "from" a different address. Always reply only from the address that the email was sent to--even if you use one account to read all your email.

This advice however is about email in general. Setting up a separate email account is not enough to maintain your anonymity. You need to avoid tying your blogging email to anything at all that connects with your offline identity, no matter how slight. This means never using that address for anything but blogging or things you are happy to have tied to your blog. Don't use it to comment on message boards, or to write amazon reviews, or for your flickr or photobucket account (if that also has non-blog things in it), or to register for your local newspaper online. Remember that email addresses are googleable, just like names are googleable. Don't use your blogging address for anything you wouldn't want people reading your blog to know about you, and don't ever use it in places where you would not want people reading it to also read your blog.

I have a friend who once responded to an anonymous harassing email from his own anonymous account. In about 30 seconds his anonymous harasser had googled his email address and found a review he had left on amazon 6 years ago which he had signed with his full name and his location. He had forgotten all about it, (and so had amazon; the information was available on the google cache page of an amazon site that wasn't even in english!)--but the internet has a memory.

The best advice I can give is to treat all your email accounts as though the 'worst case scenario' were to happen. Imagine someone hacked your email account. What would they know about you? Do you have forwarded emails from work or family in there, emails that would reveal your name?

The safest thing to do is to keep all your accounts separate. Delete everything incoming to your 'reading account' that wasn't addressed to it specifically. If you have mail auto-forwarded to a single account, never answer an email from anywhere but where it was addressed to.
Don't tie your accounts together by enabling any sort of "reply from" feature, even if you think doing so will only affect your email account. This recent problem with google mail shows that it's worth the extra time to login and logout of your various accounts in order to answer email. It's very annoying, but in this as in other internet security measures it's better to be safe than sorry.

Be safe,


Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Question of Blog Etiquette

An interesting and honest debate is currently underway regarding the recent dropping of Google search capabilities regarding several sexbloggers and the subsequent reporting of that issue by PBS. I won't repeat it all here, but you can follow the developing story over on Chelsea Girl's blog, here at Sex in the Public Square or read the original PBS story HERE This is an interesting moment when the blogging community slips into a mainstream news reporting and how and why it has been handled the way it has. We'll keep an eye on this as it develops.

Friday, November 10, 2006

13 Internet Enemies

I thought this was worthy of bringing some attention to. Reporters Without Borders has just released their annual list of countries that stifle free speech on-line. The entire piece can be accessed HERE, and you might also want to visit the Reporters information page HERE for more information of course.

You can also have your voice be heard against these countries by voting HERE. I just did.

The site lists 61 cyber-dissidents and bloggers that are imprisoned worldwide. Scary stuff.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


• It seems we were experiencing some freaky stuff there for a few days. Whatever it was, and I haven't been able to figure it out exactly, it seems to have resolved itself. I suspect blogger server issues again, but access was coming and going, and we couldn't log in, stuff like that. No apparent damage done.

• Comment moderation has been turned off, hopefully forever. This site should be the hub for free and open dialogue.

• We have had some bumps in relaunching, but we are slowly working through those. I know that IE is causing some issues and I am working on those, but it is slow going, so hang in there.

• In the meantime, the more the merrier, so feel free to contact us if you'd like to be a part of the effort here.

Take care.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Researchers at the Indiana University School of informatics found, in a recent study, that phishers may be netting responses from as much as 14 percent of the targeted populations per attack, as opposed to 3 percent per year, a higher-than expected percentage of internet users who are likely to fall victim to scam artists.

In computing, phishing is a criminal activity using social engineering techniques. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an electronic communication.

Surveys by the Gartner Group report that about 3 percent of adult Americans are successfully targeted by phishing attacks each year, an amount that might be conservative given that many are reluctant to report they have been victimized, or may even be unaware of it.

Approved in advance by the IU Bloomington Human Subjects Committee, "(The) goal was to determine the success rates of different types of phishing attacks, not only the types used today, but those that don't yet occur..." says Markus Jakobsson, associate professor of informatics. These experiments, says the report, have the advantage of reporting actual numbers.

"We wanted to proceed ethically and yet obtain accurate results," says Ratkiewicz, a computer science doctoral student. One experiment was to launch a "spear phishing" attack in which a phisher sends a personalized message to a user who might actually welcome or expect the message. in this approach, the phisher gleans personal information readily available over the internet and incorporates it in the attack,potentially making the attack more believable.

"We think spear phishing attacks will become more prevalent as phishers are more able to harvest publicly available information to personalize each attack," Ratkiewicz says. "And there's good reason to believe that this kind of attack will be more dangerous than what we're seeing today."

For more on the complete study,
Click Here

(c) 2006 MediaPost Communications, 1140 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

Monday, November 06, 2006

Where There is a Creative Will . . .

Death. It blows. A lot of people have many different thoughts on death and what will happen when they die. What a lot of people don’t consider is what happens to their creative properties when they die. The rights to your work are tossed in the air and will usually fall to your spouse or family. Not a big problem on the surface.

But if you are like 98.4% of most sex bloggers, your spouse and family are not your friends. You have been writing about them, or writing about things they would, well die, if they read. Rest assure, they will figure out what you are writing but the question becomes, what will they do with your years of hard sex blogging? Think they are going to turn it into a book dedicated to your sensuality? I don’t think so either. Odds are they’ll destroy it. What you need is someone who will get the rights.

Neil Gaiman recently did a post about writers and what happens to their work when they die. He has a simple download where you can get a creative rights friendly will. Here you can designate which of your trusted friends or lovers get the rights to your creativity. The beauty of the will is it is simple, and can be modified to fit whatever creative project you. Download it, follow the instructions, and take your work as seriously as your readers do.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Resolution of Purpose

As I had hoped, the recent post regarding a "WatchList" has created a healthy debate amongst several concerned bloggers. This was the entire reason I posted such a controversial post in the first place. Please feel free to read through the comments yourself. Starting this blog up again has been a process and will continue to be a process. There are several "action items" that I want to bring to your attention in the coming months, this was simply the first.

This debate has allowed for the airing of opinions, which in my own humble opinion, is good and healthy. As a result of this process I would like to suggest the following specific amendment to the posted Mission Statement in the sidebar.

1) This site exists to assist bloggers (adult or otherwise) in defending their rights to the best of our ability and resources.
2) We do this by providing resources, guides and advice in the resolution of those conflicts.
3) If it benefits the community, we may on occasion find it necessary to alert the community to the presence of violators of these rights.
4) This site assumes no legal authority in the resolution of conflicts, or the enforcement of those rights or the punishment of those that violate them.

I want to be clear that it was never my intention to actually create a list of any type on this site, or in a shared form. This however, does not preclude the mentioning of such an idea to test its merits. The result of which is much as I would have expected, and the idea is summarily abandoned, as such ideas should be.

There is considerable precedent, successful I might add, already on this site that should drive our ability to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis. We must be aware of the inclination towards abuse and be sensitive to the wide-range of opinion, thought and subject matter present here in the bloggersphere and in the greater world. Having said that however, there is a significant difference between thought and action. For example, talking or writing about rape fantasies within a blog, while reprehensible to myself, is different than commenting on female bloggers sites and intimidating them through threats of personal violence. I mention that example because this actually happened here in our community not that long ago.

I made the decision to help with this site because I believe in its mission. I believe that SIC can be a useful and valuable resource to the blogging community. However, to be such it needs to stand firm and strong on those beliefs and not placate, or minimize them in any way. Otherwise we are little more than opinionated mouth-pieces that should find better things to do with our time.

Feel free to debate anything I've said in the comments below.