wiki:WebInfoPamphlet

Version 4 (modified by alfredo, 12 years ago) (diff)

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Making Good Internet Decisions

We all use the Internet; most of us don't know more about than we have to. That's logical; most of us learn what we need to and the Internet's powerful technology allows us to do a lot without really knowing how things work. And that's good because most activists have plenty to do and the easier things are to use, the better.

But the Internet isn't a "neutral" tool like a hammer or a calculator. Because it is a mass movement, the Internet is an arena for very internse political struggle. There are people who want to use it primarily to make money and to continue the kind of society most of us are still living in. There are those of us, and our numbers on the Internet are impressive, who see the Internet as another tool for changing society and the world in virtually every way.

These aren't just theoretical options. The choices you make impact on the way you use the Internet. They can either contain your experience and force you into the control of a company or allow you to grow and broaden your experience.

More than that, these choices have an impact on the rest of the Internet and the rest of the progressive movement. Because, as with any issue or struggle (and possibly more important than most), there are responsible choices to make about your Internet work and there are choices that are simply irresponsible.

You want to make the responsible choices and so, in making your Internet plans, here are some issues and questions you need to be conscious of. So when you're choosing an Internet "provider", here are some questions you might ask.

Web

Does your server allow plain text FTP access?

FTP is "File Transfer Protocol" and it's the way you get your files (or web pages) into your website for people to see on their browsers. Seeing a page is a fairly safe thing: you see it and there's not a whole lot you can do with it. But uploading a page is quite another matter: if someone uploads a malicious file, it can literally eat up the other web pages on your website or display information you don't want or, even worse, get into the rest of your directory and destroy it. If the provider's server is not properly secure, such a file can destroy everyone else's data.

FTP access is insecure because it travels over channels (called "Ports") that allow it to be read as it's being transferred and because it doesn't provide a lot of protection while you're in your directory. A person with proper programs can eavesdrop the entire session, log it and do all kinds of information robbery to be used in exploiting your files.

Everyone should use Secure File Transfer Protocol. SFTP is less common than FTP and there are fewer programs that you can use to do an sftp session. So many activists are used to FTP and wonder why they should be using the alternative. Basically, it's because your data is critically important to you and to the rest of us: because you're part of our movement.

There are SFTP programs for every computer platform. You should insist that your provider only allows sftp. If the answer's no, do not use that provider.

What's your policy on receiving cease-and-desist letters? Do have I have full secure shell access?

Email

Do you use starttls so all email data is encrypted from point-to-point with other email providers using starttls? Do you enforce https only web access to webmail?

DNS

Can do I have full control over my domain name (ability to change the authoritative DNS servers)?

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