Letter: Keeping secrets on the Internet

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From Ms Megan Robertson

Sir: Again, there are myths and misconceptions about the Internet within a news report ("California biker lets Satan ride out on the Internet", 5 April).

The whole underlying concept of the Internet is freedom of access to all manner of information, so Dan Farmer's actions in putting out his Satan program [which gives a list of security flaws in any system at which it is pointed] is a prime example of that ideal.

What so many people - computerate or not - fail to realise is that if you have information you want to keep secure, it is up to you to guard it adequately. One good way is not to enable Internet access to the computer you have it on. If I cannot log on to your system, I certainly cannot pinch your secret files from it, however good a hacker I might be.

If for whatever reasons, you do put your secrets on Internet-accessible computers, it is up to you to ensure that the security systems you install allow access only to those you want to be able to read it. Mr Farmer's Satan program is in fact an aid to the attainment of that aim - it is better for a program to find the flaws than a hacker.

Yours faithfully,




5 April