Are You Safe on the Web?

You would imagine that your day to day activites on the web are safe. You send and receive email, you visit your favourite sites, a friend sends you a link to another site which you go to and suddenly your entire computer screen is full of sites and photos that are pretty X Rated, or even worse, involve children.

One such person was unlucky back at the start of the year. Julie Amero was found guilty last week after she visited a site which then filled her screen with popups of pornography, unfortunately this happened in front of a classroom of minors. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a crime that isn’t really a crime. She didn’t do it maliciously, she couldn’t control it. Whilst she is to blame simply because she shouldn’t have been surfing the web whilst in charge of a class of children, she should be disciplined by her employer, not the judicial system.

Luckily, some computer experts have stepped in and managed to get her case re-examined. They’ve testified that the computer she was on was so out of date, not protected from spyware and adware etc. that meant she probably didn’t have much of a chance of preventing this from happening. She innocently visited a site and that site essentially took over her computer and what she saw on it. I’ve seen it in the past. Not pornography but I’ve visited a site and so many popups kept opening that I had to kill the computer to get them to stop.

But it makes you realise that we’re not safe. All it takes is an ‘online friend’ who is in reality a complete stranger, sends you a link to a site or a file and suddenly you find yourself in a whirlwind scenario where, despite your claims of innocence, you’re assumed guilty, afterall you have complete control over your computer – right?

One of the experts quoted in the re-examined article is Chris Boyd. Chris runs his own security blog called Vital Security which is well worth a read. Let’s hope Chris, along with the other experts around, can get the law enforcement and legal systems to start to understand more about this thing called the internet.