Intercept and read private information travelling through the Internet
Some of you may find today's Dark Tip a bit scary. It's scary because it shows you how insecure your information is on the Net. Give me a laptop, a network card, and software called Iris and I can show you almost every email, instant message, and webpage requested across a network.
Scary, huh? I don't know what's scarier, that your private information is floating around out there or that it's extremely easy to look at it.
Hop around the block
When you do anything on the Internet, your computer sends out little digital packets of information. These packets travel from your network card though many wires, eventually reaching your gateway. From there they're relayed through hops to reach their destination server.
Packet sniffing captures those packets of information on their way to your local machine. Many software packages capture packets, but only a few decode the packets into useful information.
Capture and decode
Iris isn't just a packet-capturing program. It's also a decoder, turning what appears to be useless garbage (raw packet info) into viewable websites, email messages, and instant messenger conversations.
Iris makes it easy to capture and decode packets on a network, but that's not all it can do. Iris has features for statistics, reports, filtering options, and scheduling. Iris is geared toward the corporate network administrator, not the home end user. At $995 it's no bargain, but you can download and use it for free for 15 days. You can learn a grip (a lot) in 15 days.
Download Iris trial version
I bet you're still a little freaked out that someone could be intercepting your information and reading your most private thoughts. Here are a few tips to secure your information:
Use encrypted instant messaging. Trillian Pro offers encryption, and it's compatible with AIM, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo!, and IRC. It costs $25.
Encrypt your email. Leo recommends Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). It's free, but the email recipient needs to use your public key to decrypt the email. Hushmail is a free, Web-based, encrypted email service.
Encrypt your email attachments. PGP offers file encryption. Stay tuned. I do an in-depth segment on file encryption on an upcoming show.