Malware isn’t the only malicious stuff that you need to look out for when venturing out on to the Internet, as it isn’t just computer software that is vulnerable — computer users are too. Instead of the usual social engineering and phishing issues, I’m going to mention two documentaries that describe an attempted murder, and an actual murder, both the result of people using the Internet.
I can remember seeing a cartoon back in the nineties, not long after I started toddling out on to the Internet. With a 2400 baud (that’s 2400 bits per second) modem and MS-DOS, it was quite a bit like toddling too — a lot of effort for not a lot of speed.
The cartoon was created by Peter Steiner and published by The New Yorker in 1993. It summed the problem up pretty nicely with a caption of ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog‘, and these documentaries point out that it is even more apt today.
The first documentary, Talhotblond discusses two people who start chatting on the Internet, become friends, and eventually end up in a love triangle with a third person. As it turns out, there is more than one person involved in deceit, and someone ends up murdered.
The second documentary, Kill Me If You Can is a story about two teenagers who start chatting on the Internet and become good friends. This story starts to go a little awry when one of the teenagers is almost murdered. This documentary takes you through the story as it unfolds, and gets more and more surprising as it gradually reveals the evidence that leads police to the perpetrator. One thing that isn’t revealed, and possibly isn’t known, though, is the motive.
Moral of the stories? Be careful what you say and do on the Internet, as neither a firewall nor an intrusion prevention system can protect you from someone wielding a weapon.
Both of these stories reveal some of the human vulnerabilities — psychological vulnerabilities — opened up by human emotions, such as the need for social inclusion, and the human desire to be needed and loved…
… vulnerabilities that make us human.