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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 2, 1999)
Big Brother’s credit card scam
Computer chip serial numbers leave Web users vulnerable
CLIFF HICKS is a senior
English major and the
Daily Nebraskan opinion
Every time I blink, it seems the
computer industry gets one step
more ludicrous than I thought possi
This time Intel’s the possible bad
guy in question.
I’m sure just about everyone in
the world is familiar with the
Pentium name. It’s been force-fed
into just about anyone with a televi
sion or radio, anyone who picks up a
newspaper or magazine. If you touch
the media, you know who Intel is.
Intel plans on attaching internal
processor serial numbers to every
Pentium III chip, which will start
shipping sometime in the near future.
This number is designed, according
to Intel, to track users on the Internet.
In theory, this is supposed to
make things easier for computer
See, Intel’s claiming its serial
numbers improve Internet security.
Online commerce is booming. It’s
bizarre, butAmazon.com is still in
the red, and its stock is skyrocketing.
It’s been on the up, and it’s still on the
up. Why? Name recognition.
Amazon.com may not be doing
as much business as its executives
hope, but its name has seen ink in
Time magazine, the Wall Street
Journal and nearly every other major
paper and magazine across the
1 nation. And its intake has slowly
been increasing. At current esti
mates, it’ll be back in the black in
another year or two.
The cost? Credit card security.
In the high-tech world of this
afternoon (we’re too close for it to be
called the world of tomorrow any
more), credit card fraud is the white
collar crime of choice.
Even though big companies like
Amazon.com have increased the
security of their servers, many com
So fraud is still on the rise, and
it’s only going to get easier, because
more and more credit card numbers
are going to be passed through the
Internet. And it’s easier than you
think to just pluck those digits out of
a data stream.
So Intel’s just trying to cut down
on that kind of thing, right? Trying to
make sure credit card fraud can be
tracked back to the proper culprit.
Of course, it isn’t that hard to
configure a false number, according
So who is going to be using these
numbers? Fll give you two good
guesses - the second word is mail,
and the first word is junk.
Welcome to Spamville!
Let’s say, for the sake of argu
ment, I decide to turn my serial num
ber on so people can “learn more
Intel claims over 30 companies
are planning on taking advantage of
this. I have no idea ifAmazon.com is
one of them, but I use Amazon.com
on a regular basis, so we’ll use them
for an example.
I buy a copy of Orwell’s “1984,”
and my PSN is sent. That’s entered
into a database.
So I have a) bought something
on-line, b) displayed an interest in
books, c) displayed an interest in
anti-censorship literature and d)
given my e-mail address to the com
pany I’ve done this through.
Now, mind you, if Amazon.com
were a less-than-sterling company,
they could pass that information on
to other people, who could use it for
whatever nefarious reasons they
E-mail address + Internet busi
nesses + $$$ = Spamville!
Anyone who’s ever been on
America Online knows all about
There are people who actually
dredge e-mail addresses from chat
rooms for money. These people earn
$0.03-$0.08 per e-mail address, and
they harvest them by the thousands.
Step into a chat room, and you’ll be
hit by e-mail backlash for weeks.
Now imagine for a minute it got
even easier for them to do that, and
not just for AOL users.
I have designated e-mail address
es to catch junk mail, and I let those
e-mail addresses pile up the flak
when I’m away. I usually just dump
them out without reading anything.
More people may have to start
doing this in die near future.
Secure? What’s that?
Here’s a few choice words of
enlightenment for you about the
Internet: It’s not 100 percent safe.
Your heart’s broken, I know. You
were all excited about the Brave New
World™ out there, but it ain’t gonna
It’s possible to harvest credit card
numbers just like e-mail addresses by
Isn’t breaking encryption, well,
Hard, sure. Impossible, no. And
once one person does it, they
inevitably pass it on to everyone else.
As of this writing, there is no
encryption that cannot be broken.
Some may take longer than oth
ers, some may even take weeks or
months, with computers and people
But no code is unbreakable.
Geez, Cliff, the computer
world’s hill of villains, isn’t it?
Yep, it sure is. Hackers trying to
steal your credit card numbers, Intel
trying to pass your life story to any
one with a sawbuck, Microsoft trying
to cram everything they make down
your throat and the government try
ing to make sure all encryptions have
a key that will let them open it with
The computer world is the latest
untamed frontier. Much like the mid
1800s, where whoever had the guns
made the rules, the computer world’s
in its Wild West phase right now.
What’s does it mean to me?
It means it’s time you start keep
ing an eye on the computer world.
Buy your computers like you buy
your cars: Do your homework.
That shiny new iMac may sound
nice on paper, but are you prepared
to buy software through the Internet
for the next five years?
That cheapie no-name brand
computer might sound like a great
deal, but what skeletons are lurking
under the hood, and how long will
you be able to use it?
Who do you trust? Intel?
Microsoft? Apple? Anyone?
Trust no one. (™ and © Chris
Carter and “The X-Files ”) Every
time I blink, a new villain springs up.
Someone other than me has got to be
Lock and load
Top nine concealed weapons myths
A.L. FORKNER is a junior
news-editorial major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist.
Don’t you hate it when you’re at
your girlfriend’s office, and it’s taken
over by terrorists? If you’re anything
like me, you’re probably sitting in
the bathroom without shoes or a gun.
Irritating, isn’t it?
C’mon, who hasn’t faced that
Well, good news. Soon that prob
lem will be a thing of the past.
That’s right, boys and girls, the
concealed weapons bill (LB476) is
back in the Unicam.
(Is it just me, or does Unicam
sound like a Schwarzenegger film?)
Although the bill seems to have
more than enough support to pass,
the usual naysayers are all riled up.
Of course, when the anti-gun
lobby gets aroused, the pro-gunners
get all huffy.
Soon there’s so much fur flying
that some facts get lost in the shuffle.
That’s where concerned and dedi
cated journalists come in.
You know, me.
See, I’m somewhat of an expert
on the matter. Joyce Hazelton (South
Dakota’s secretary of state) has
decreed that I, A.L. Forkner, am per
mitted in the state of South Dakota to
carry a concealed pistol.
Oh yeah, after the long and ardu
ous application process ($6 and
“Yous ain’t kilt no one didja?”) I was
issued a CCW, or Carry of
Concealed Weapons permit.
That’s why I’m going to debunk
some of the myths and mythters con
cerning concealed weapons.
Anyway, to avoid lawsuits, here’s
the Top Nine Myths about the con
cealed weapons permit.
9. They’re too easy to get.
OK, I won’t defend the South
Dakota system. But the bill in front
of the Unicam will require a $75
application fee, a background check
courtesy of the state patrol and com
pletion of a gun safety course.
Why is this a better method?
First of all, do the math. How
many trips to the plasma bank is 75
That’s even better than a five-day
waiting period. Even if you wanted
to kill someone, you wouldn’t have
the energy to pull the trigger.
8. Minor crime will increase.
Do I really have to discuss the
esque logic at work here?
Fine, I will.
Let’s say I want to rob a liquor
Gee whiz, I’d really like to rob it,
but it would be illegal for me to con
ceal a gun when I go in the store.
Or, hmm, if I’m going to rob that
store, I better go apply for a weapons
permit. If I don’t, how can I rob
It won’t make a lick of differ
ence if I’m allowed to carry a gun or
not. If I’m gonna knock over a liquor
store, I’m gonna do it, license be
7. Crimes of passion will
Again, if I’m ever to the point of
killing someone, rest assured I don’t
need a gun to do it.
(Please look for A.L.’s newest
book, “47 Ways to Kill with a Dixie
Cup.” Available at fine bookstores
6. Kids will have better access
No joke here, folks. Nothing
scares me more than the thought of a
kid with a gun.
That’s where the gun safety
course comes in. Part of the class, as
mandated by LB476, entails child
5.0 Street will become High
Noon at 1 a.m.
Personally, I kinda wish it would.
Talk about a boon to natural selec
tion. At the very least, we’d see a
drop in profits at Abercrombie and
Fitch. And I think anyone in their
right mind can admit that’s a good
But, will it really increase vio
lence in the bar district?
Doubtful. Again I lean towards
all the rig-a-ma-role (ask your grand
parents) you have to go through to
get the permit.
If violence does occur, all the
documentation will make
arrest and conviction
Just a little tip from your ol’
Uncle A.L., keep your hands in plain
sight. And try not to use the phrase
“Die pig, die.” Just a suggestion.
2. Right-wing militias will
Whatever. It’s those loonies that
scared me into getting one in the first
1. It’s an oil slick on the down
hill slide to the end of civilization.
No, that would be Geri Halliwell
(the person formerly known as
Ginger Spice) working as a United
For goodness’ sake,
Mk Nebraska is one
of only seven
doesn’t have some kind of CCW.
Florida adopted one a few years
I’m not sure how many of you
are familiar with the most corrupt
state ever. I like to say everything’s in
the 80s. The temperanires. the ages
and the IQs.
Guess what happened?
Unbridled riots, skyrocketing crime,
dogs and cats living in peace?
Nope, the crime rate dropped.
Just like it has almost
every time a state
'has passed con
‘ cealed weapon legis
Well, that about does
it. I think I’ve
cleared up most of
tions about con
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