Tuesday, April 5, 2016


A while back, I got an email from a friend.  She is a librarian and was born in Britain.  So, naturally, I was suspicious when I saw that the English written in the email included what is sometime called "non-standard grammar" and is sometimes called "bad English."  When that sort of thing happens, I try to notify my friend of the email that purports to be authentic but probably isn't.

I am not sure how it is today but it may still be rather easy to open an email account in the name of Sally Jones or anyone else.  If it works right, I will be able to make people think the email is indeed from Sally. 

I don't know much about how to turn a misidentification into money.  I have heard of various questionable methods, both immoral and unfair and also unlikely to succeed.  Of course, if I am going to make some money out of the deal in a way that is illegal and immoral, I would want to avoid leaving behind a paper trail, fingerprints, voice recordings, computer IP address or anything else that will lead people, especially law enforcement people, to my computer, or worse, to me.

The other day I wrote about being luggage-free.  I actually began that post with the idea of writing about using cloud services in such a way that virtually nothing on my machine was valuable or worth fighting about.  That is not easy to do.  What I use a computer for is by definition of some value, at least at the time I use the machine.  But the most secure arrangement is probably what might be called "protected dispersion".  As I understand it, the internet itself was invented by the US government to provide for rapid dispersion of important records and documents.  The basic idea is that if enough copies of something valuable are put in enough reasonably secure places, it would be difficult for either malevolence or mishap to be able to destroy them all.  Some copies would survive.

I believe in the idea that if people invent something, people can invent counterinventions that neutralize or undo or defeat whatever has been invented.  As people at FiveThirtyEight wrote the other day, don't forget that the machine that defeated some high level Go champions was built by humans.

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