Dedication for this write goes to NEWSREP brother Mason.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

“If somebody gets your IP address you may as well lay down, because you’re dead.”

“Should someone get your IP address they can find where you live.”

“What if some creep gets your IP address, they can hack into your computer and steal your banking data.”

True or false statements? It really depends on which movie made for television you’re watching. There certainly is a lot predicated on those doomsday statements above. Though they boast much, they actually deliver very little. But making sense of those three must surely be important to us adults, so let’s begin.

Do most people really know/understand what an Internet Protocol address really is? Well, in fairness, I insist they really do, because an address is an address; that is, it is a destination identification, sure as the address scribbled on an envelope — remember those?

You see, the principle is the same, though the details are very different: if you misspelled Albookirkee on your envelope (and most of us do), the postal system is human and intuitive enough to figure out you meant Albuquerque and will route it. If you make even the slightest mistake on an IP address, the Internet doesn’t care what it thinks you mean…

Return to sender!

The Internet is based on the premise that all devices connected to the Internet shall each have a unique identifier, and that could be an IP address. There cannot be — or, rather there should not be — two IP addresses that are the same, or the darn system just doesn’t work right.

Return to sender!

But that never stopped the Chinese; they have been making up whatever IP addresses they want since Al Gore invented the Internet in his garage. So the Chinese are just not dandy team players when it comes to world politics… or much else.

As far as whether or not someone can hack into your computer, oh… you better believe that can happen. In all, I have been into perhaps 24 random PCs running the Windows Operating Systems. The great divide in my case is that they were random PCs; I was never able to target and access a specific person’s PC. It was a matter of getting in, having a look around, and then leaving. While it was entertaining and really amusing — most computers I “visited” had some form of pornography on them — it got boring very quickly and I moved on.

Ouch… return to sender!

The Internet Messenger by Buky Schwartz, located in Holon, Israel

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And so as far as stealing your bank data… in all the machines I have been in I never stumbled across a folder named “Ted’s bank account password and login.” Good show, Ted! That means to say that getting into a computer is not automatic bank data, though it is not at all what any of us would want to happen.

How about this: me getting into your house is not automatically me getting to your valuables. What if you have them locked in a safe? Return to Sender! You are smart in your house; you can be smart in your computer, too. So you’ve got my smartphone… I’ll cancel my service maybe next week sometime. No hurry at all, good luck with that password.

Now what to do and how to do it

Now, brothers and sisters, we do NOT want to give out our IP addresses. It’s just an awful hobby to take up under any level of boredom. Why give a potential creep a head start? Do we need to protect our IP addresses, to hide them and safeguard them? Ok, sure; why not. I hide mine… sometimes. But I do not hide it all the time because I am just not that interesting.

Please let me demonstrate by reading my IP address and (no kidding) giving it to you right now: is my IP. I now open a terminal window on my computer and type “whois″ at the command prompt and hit enter. That command queries “the Internet” and learns that is an IP address out of Brussels Belgium — no foolin’!

I hide my IP address with a readily available application I bought and downloaded from the Internet called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The program allows me to select which city in the U.S. or abroad that I want my IP address to come from, then flip it on or off or change the location as desired.

That’s Kool and the Gang. Drawbacks exist, but are minor, i.e., if I try logging into my bank account while my VPN is running, my bank thinks Brussels Belgium is trying to hack into geo’s account. Aha. Solution: turn off VPN.

And so… now that I have a good solid game plan for hiding my computer’s IP address, I can now turn my focus to defeating the other dozens of security vulnerabilities that exist while navigating the glorious and double-edged sword that is the internet!

By Almighty God and with honor,
geo sends