Internet Safety Tutorial

Topic#1 - Internet Relay Chat

From the original concept of ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks) that the department of defense created in the early 1970's, the concept of communication on the internet has been one of it's biggest benefactors.  A by-product of the ARPAnet, the grandfather of what we now know as the internet, is Internet Relay Chat, or IRC.  Many of you may know this as Chat, Comic Chat, Miscrosoft Chat, DalNet, UnderWorld, or many other names, but their main component is a Application-based Server-to-Client communications tool.  Essentially, it's a way to chat with people.

IRC has grown explosively over the past 5 years, growing from a few dedicated servers serving handfuls of people with specific goals to 1000's of servers serving every corner of the globe with millions of people actively using it every day.  Topics range from information sharing, music sharing, and file transfer rooms to Adult "CyberSex" rooms and pornographic picture trading rooms.  Every aspect of our moderns lives has a chat room actively talking about our problems, our desires, and our hidden secrets every day.

So why is this dangerous?  

IRC has become an enigma of sorts with it's explosive growth.  While bringing people together, it has brought an element of danger closer to every user.  We hear every day about the horror stories involved with the internet; 90% of them come from IRC.  Here's a small list of what may happen to you on IRC;

  1. Vital Information from your computer can be stolen using hacking programs

  2. Using information you give to people, stalkers can gain every piece of information they need about you .

  3. Viruses can be planted on your computer through file transfers

  4. Your computer can be "nuked".  (Nukes range in strength from kicking you off the server temporarily to hard-drive destroying applications.)

  5. Your children can be exploited by people with malicious intents hiding in chat rooms.

Over the past several years, there have been hundreds of incidents of stalking, and even murder directly tied to events that occurred on IRC.  We all have heard about the teenage girls running away with older men they met on the internet.  We've heard about jealous cyber-lovers stalking and killing people in fits of anger.  Although this occurrences are not the norm, everyone who travels the IRC highways is at risk.

What can I do to be safe?

IRC is basically an uncontrolled medium.  Most servers you connect to have codes of conduct that determine how people may act on the server.  But unfortunately enforcement of these rules is light at best, and the amount of enforcement provided diminishes as the crimes become more and more serious.  So the only way to be safe is to take matters in your own hands.

Here are our 5 basic rules to keep you safe on the internet.

#1 Never use your full name, address, phone number, or any other piece of information that relates to you EVER.  Lie.  Make stuff up.  Use aliases and try to give out false information when asked.  Why do you need to lie?  Because with a birth date and a full name a person can over-take every aspect of your life.  A simple birth date/first and last name can get a birth certificate, a credit report, an address, a driver's license, a credit card, and a loan.  At that point, the person with this information is an exact duplicate of you to anyone else who doesn't know you.  This also means don't give out information about family or friends; There are many ways to track information on the net, including who you know.

#2 Never accept a file from anyone you don't know.  File transfers are common on IRC, with everything from pirate software to music to personal pictures being handed over between users on a regular basis.  If someone wants to send you a file, don't accept until you know that person is sending you what they claim.  The transfer of files is the primary method of sending viruses on the internet.

#3 Never accept a DCC transmission from someone you don't know.  Direct Channel Connections, or private whispers, are a preferred way to talk among people on the net.  Unfortunately, these same DCC connections can be exploited to pass corrupt files, send viruses, and "nuke" people.  By acknowledging a DCC connection, you give more information about yourself to who ever is on the other side of the connection.

#4 Don't trust anybody.  However harsh this may seem, it is a reality on IRC.  Most of the people you meet on IRC will be there for reasons you can trust, but there is a segment of the IRC population that are merely there to harm you in whatever way they can.  You wouldn't trust a person you just met on the street to come into your home, so don't let someone you just met on IRC come into your Cyber-Home.  On IRC, just as in real life, trust must be earned.  Just as we told you to lie in Rule #1, assume everybody else is using Rule #1 as well.

#5 Don't let your children chat without you there.  There are many places that offer safe children's chat on the web.  They state that they are looking for predators, and will stop people who wish to do your children harm.  So why does it still happen?  Nobody can be everywhere all the time.  Unfortunately, chat has a lot of every where's.  So sit with your children when they chat, and only chat in places that REQUIRE registrations.  In conjunction with, we have set up a bulletin board with chat ability just for children.  It requires a parental registration, and we monitor it as fully as possible.  But even we don't want children left alone in our own site.  Your children are worth too much to ignore this rule.

in Conclusion...

There is so much more to know before you are safe on IRC.  Being the uncontrolled medium that it is, there are always dangers, and new ones pop up every day. 

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