Transnational Resarch Associates


Art Madsen, M.Ed.

The Crucial Issue

This page is intended for Internet Users who may or may not be familiar with the wide range of options related to Internet Privacy and Security. Its primary intent is to describe the risks and the remedies associated with certain operations on the Internet, such as cash or credit card transactions, confidential information exchange and illicit tracking of browsing on the Internet. There are new tools to protect against such intrusion and these will also be described on this page.

Just as your home is vulnerable to breaking and entering, so are your Internet browsing or purchasing habits. Fortunately, vulnerability can be minimized through a basic understanding of the practices and principles governing the intricacies of the Internet. Such knowledge does not come especially easily. It is necessary, firstly, to have a fundamental grasp of basic technical concepts and, secondly, access to a website specializing in both simple and sophisticated security software programs. For example, a link to ""might be a reasonable starting point. This site is elaborate enough to inform the security-conscious surfer of all the technical permutations and risks involved.

Is My Online Information Important?

If you consider your information of vital importance to you and your personal interests, then it must be protected. Obviously, corporations and marketing firms are eager to obtain as much information concerning your private transactions, tastes, and preferences as possible. In technical journals such as Internet Security Advisor, the latest trends and data pertaining to Internet marketing, security and protection are provided to both professionals and amateurs in this blossoming field.

Rapid growth of powerful and high speed computing has made it possible for an individuals' personal information to be accumulated, stored, manipulated, and accessed at will. With people now flocking to the Internet for browsing, e-mailing, and online shopping, the use of telecommunications can easily be used. Online companies are now recording and tracking a user’s e-mail address, sites visited, links clicked and any downloads made.

Firms now have the ability to gather consumer information and segregate customers into separate unique groups (separate but equal). By so doing, marketers can target different demographic groups. Many firms go so far as to sell consumer databases, and have made this a vital revenue source for their firms.

Ensuring Internet Privacy

Privacy on the Internet is an evolving issue that must be confronted by government, business, and individuals. Current antiquated laws in place today do not properly reflect information related to the Internet. Government has the obligation to enact privacy laws for public and private entities. In order to do so, the federal government must establish privacy commissions for the proper implementation of enacted laws. Business should also promote self-evaluations and regulations for purposes of customer information. A clear understanding by the consumer must be forthcoming before online companies can take information from customers. Individuals must also take action and educate themselves on privacy and security technologies. Further, they must begin utilizing technology now widely available for the protection of personal and commercial information. Additional privacy know-how can be obtained from such sites asThe Privacy Watchdog.

Privacy, Security & Protection Tools

There are hundreds of Internet tools for protecting private information falling into specific categories, several of which are itemized below.

Pseudo-Anonymous Remailer: When you set up a fictitious account with a remailer, you are creating a “Pseudo-Anonymous Remailer.” In so doing, only the user and the remailer service know your true e-mail address. Assuming the remailer is equipped with privacy and security of its own, then your privacy is also assured.

Anonymous Remailer: An “Anonymous Remailer,” provides much more privacy than a “Pseudo-Anonymous Remailer.” The downside to using an “Anonymous Remailer” is that it is more difficult to use than a pseudo-anonymous remailer. The two types of “Anonymous Remailers,” are “Cypherpunk remailers” and “Mixmaster remailers.”

Pentium III Processor: In development of the Pentium III processor, Microsoft set out to create a processor that incorporated internet security features. The processor has a unique serial number added to every chip which identifies the user to websites, chatrooms and businesses. The processor also allows users to disable the security protocol for those who wish to control the use of processor serial numbers.

Firewalls: A firewall allows users to separate Local Area Networks (LANs) into distinct parts. There are two types of firewalls; namely, router screening and dual-homed gateway firewalls.

Cookie-Buster: A Cookie is registered on the user's hard drive for each web site visited. The purpose is to identify your computer to the same websites in the future. In this way, the site literally 'knows' you. A Cookie-Buster, therefore, is special software to block or obstruct the remote web-site from knowing 'who you are'. This software, understandably, is becoming increasingly important to even amateur internet surfers.

Encrypted Messages: Encryption is virtually synonymous with cryptography, and allows the user to send and recover encrypted e-mail, documents or images which have been encrypted digitally. In order to decode and view the message, the receiver must have a decryption key. The drawback is that some countries limit the use of encryption.

Online Payment Tools

E-Commerce has required special strategies for ensuring the confidentiality of private credit and payment transactions. There are many tools under development at the present time, among which are the following:

Digicash: Uses encryption technology to provide users an encrypted form of cash, “Ecash.” Ecash has the benefit of anonymity and ease in making person-to-person payments. Users obtain encrypted Ecash from participating banks, which is then stored on the users machine, thus allowing safe transactions to take place on the Internet.

Cryptolope: This tool allows users to encrypt an electronic payment product for transport over the network. A unique digital object, such as finance-related datasets, can be created using cryptolope technology.

Secure Electronic Transactions (SET): A number of firms including Mastercard and Microsoft have developed a standard for secure online credit card transactions. SET will bring about a single method to conduct bankcard transactions on the Internet.

Cyber-Cash: In 1996, CyberCash partnered with Netscape to become the first to implement the SET standard. When a user wishes to purchase an item, CyberCash technology forwards encrypted payment information to the online merchant. The merchant then decrypts the order, but doesn’t have the ability to decrypt the user’s account number or personal information.