Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trade Secrets - Webcam and Internet Safety

Post reproduced from Trade Secrets: Health and Safety in the Sex Industry which was published in BC, Canada in 2009. All advice given in these posts comes from sex industry workers who shared their experience and knowledge for this guide.

The Naked Truth will feature one section from the guide each week. This week's post is from Chapter One: Our Workspaces.

Note from Trina: If any of the information you see is outdated, please comment below or send me an email so that I can correct the information. I will also update each section on the Trade Secrets blog as I go.

Webcam and Internet Safety

Some webcam entertainers work in an office setting with a computer and a bed in each room.


To prevent an exchange of bodily fluids from previous workers:

  • Put your own plastic cover on keyboard.
  • Bring Lysol disinfectant spray to spray on office phones used communally for webcam with phone sex shows.
  • Bring your own clean sheets and bedding to your cubicle.
  • Bring lots of your own toys and costumes. Cover toys with condoms if you are sharing.
  • It’s easy to be "on" for long periods of time, especially if you are in the comfort of your own home. But it's still a job and can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Take breaks. Set regular hours for yourself. Be prepared for busy times and slow times. Pace yourself. Watch your posture. Drink water. Eat meals. Get enough sleep.


Many webcam clients live in remote areas with few sex workers, so the only way they can get workers to visit them is if they pay all the costs. If a webcam client wants to send you money to travel somewhere for an actual live sex work session, take as many precautions as possible. Make them pay up front, give you their real names, and pay for your accommodations.

Internet Safety

If you are running a web service of any kind from home, make sure you have a firewall and an antivirus system to protect yourself from hackers.

If you are using wireless Internet in your home, make sure it is secure. Others can easily log onto unsecured wireless Internet connections and post information on the Internet that would lead back to you. You don’t want police showing up to your dungeon because of someone else’s actions.

As anyone can look up the owner of a web site domain name, it's also wise to make sure that your personal information posted is either blocked (with a third party service) or uses a P.O. Box address. Sometimes your web host company will replace your contact information with theirs. Just tell them that you are concerned about your personal information being available to the public. You should have the option to pay more for a "private" listing.

Although there are tricks to make it difficult for others to copy your photographs from websites, there is really no foolproof way of doing it. Clients can easily do screen captures of anything they see on the Internet.

Masking an IP Address
By Parched Mosquito

You can mask an IP address by placing a middleman computer between yourself and the "Internet." The most common way of doing this is to use a household router. A common router is a stripped down computer that handles all Internet traffic to and from your house before your Internet service provider sees it. Your individual computers connected to the router are not visible to others on the Internet, but the router itself is.

To move this into a context that could hide your webcam traffic, you would need to place a computer on the Internet that can do two things:

NAT (this is what your router does) and VPN. VPN is a secure connection between computers, across networks and media (media meaning transmission media like wires, fibre optics, and such).

After setting up a middleman computer, you use VPN to securely connect to the middleman computer. The middleman then translates your IP address and network requests between the communicating computers. In the case of the webcam, the broadcaster and receiver.

However, this will not prevent some people, such as "the authorities" from discovering your computer trail. But it will stop most "script kiddie hackers" in their tracks.

Most freely available versions of Linux can act as this so called middleman computer. Windows (server) can also do this, but it costs money.

At the very least, place a router between you and the Internet and turn on all the security settings. That way, the only information someone might get from you is what the Internet service provider can provide, i.e. subscriber info.

It is possible to break into these routers, which is why you can setup your own "router" using a dedicated Linux system computer. Very, very secure. But not for everyone as it requires in depth knowledge of network protocols, topology and Linux.

Ensuring Your Computer is Secure
By Thomas Covenant

This article is divided in two sections:

1. The threats you face and why you want to secure your computer
2. An easy to implement approach to give you some security.

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided is general and intended for “newbies." The discussion was current as of November 2009. It is impossible to have a totally secure system so it is critical to have your important files backed up.

The threat and why you want to secure your computer.

The world is connected via the internet; you can hardly have a functional computer without access to the internet.

There are very bright people on the internet who spend their entire day building “threats." If you read the newspaper you will have read about viruses, trojan horses, spoofing, spyware, malware and others. You can spend weeks looking at the differences between these different items but the common thread is …

Someone has control over your computer.

This is bad. A key-logger can record your password and banking information. A virus will try to attach itself to your e-mails, your computer might be part of a zombie network.

This is just a tip of the iceberg of badness.

An easy to implement approach to give you some security

If you are using Shaw then use their Shaw Secure program. If you have a problem then Shaw “might” be able to help you. Cleaning up a compromised computer is tricky and time consuming and you cannot be sure that the problem is fixed. A quick solution is to reformat your hard drive which means you will have lost any personal information.

Therefore: You have to have a backup of your important files.

You should have an anti-virus and a fire wall program.

The anti-virus and fire wall program will scan your computer and hopefully identify malware etc before they install. Microsoft offers Windows Defender which is free, but you can also use AVG Antivirus, or some commercial programs like Norton or Kapersky security products.

You should also make sure that your computer software is up-to-date.

Many threats will use a weakness in the program to gain access to your machine.

Microsoft will update its software on the second Tuesday of every month.

Sometimes there is a large update and your computer will be running very slowly as the updates download and install.

Secunia software checker and Filehippo software update checkers are useful for non-Microsoft programs like Adobe, Firefox. etc. They will scan your computer and tell you if there is a revised program which you can download.

Another useful program is Belarc Advisor. It will do an audit of your PC and post the result in your browser window. It will tell you if you have missed any key Microsoft security updates.

Running a lean computer

Malware needs a place to hide. If you have a machine with lots of old programs that you don’t use you might want to clear them out. Even your casual internet surfing generates a lot of temporary files. Using a program like Crap Cleaner is useful as it clears out a lot of clutter so the anti-virus scanners will run faster.

You have to be aware and become pro-active

I have seen a lot of compromised systems where the problem was identified and then ignored. (Usually teenagers closing error messages resulting in massive spy-bot invasions). If you see an error message, maybe write it down and google it and see what others have found. You should also avoid wandering into “dangerous territory.” Warez programs (hacked computer programs ) are famous for adding a virus to their wares.

Also be cautious about opening emails from strangers that have attachments.

Concluding Comments

Being on the internet involves an element of risk. Your best defense is knowledge and some reliable software.

Hopefully this article is a start. Computer security is a huge topic and it is continually evolving. Knowing your computer, using the programs suggested and understanding the reports and error messages is vital. Google a lot … someone has seen your problem before and hopefully you can avoid more serious problems.

Passwords and Backup
By Thomas Covenant

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided is general and intended for “newbie’s”. The discussion was current as of November 2009. It is impossible to have a totally secure system so it is critical to have your important files backed up.

Passwords

Sooner or later you will have to secure “something” on your computer, be it your screensaver, router, hotmail account, your dating service, or more importantly your banking information. The password is intended to limit access to the particular program or device, so don’t write your password on a post it note attached to your computer screen, or on the desk blotter or give it to your kids or co-worker.

Now there are people on the internet who would like to find your password, let’s call them “Crackers." The motivation for finding out your password ranges from the “challenge of figuring it out” to the creep who wants to read your email to the professional thief who wants to clean out your PayPal account. Most of the work is done by computer programs so the “Cracker” can scan many computers in the hope that there will be a few with the doors left open. (There always are a few.)

So it is important to have a pretty good password that isn’t easily “cracked” but still easy for you to remember and type in.

There have been studies made of what people use for passwords, favorites are “ASDF,” “AAA," "1234,” your kids name, special dates in your life, and “God,” just to name a few.

Crackers can use social engineering and dictionary attacks to easily get past these passwords. Some programs like Gmail will evaluate your passwords to force you to make them stronger.

A good password has a mix of letters (lower and UPPERCASE) and numbers and maybe a ! or two. If your password was “bubblebath” maybe 6u66le6atH! might do the trick.

A good password should be easy for you to remember but difficult to guess.

It is a good idea to limit physical access to your computer or computer hardware as a Cracker can usually re-set the device back to the factory settings. There are websites listing the factory password settings for every device made.

Don’t use the same password twice if you can help it. A cracker can break your screensaver password in seconds and it would be the first choice at your bank log in page.

Don’t leave the default password active. Your router and computer may have a Guest account with the password “Guest." And don’t leave your password blank.

Backup

Introduction and Key Concepts

The average computer user has heard of “backup” but their computer usually has failed before they got the chance to “back things up."

It is critical that you back up files that can’t be remade such as the family photo album. It is also critical that you store the backup somewhere safe. (If your house burns down for instance.) And you have to ensure that the backup actually works.

Some people download their photos to the computer, burn a CD and have the best photos printed. If the computer crashes they still have the printed photo and they can rebuild the library from CD. If the CD’s were stored at your parent’s house then your data would be fairly safe. (Hopefully there isn’t a flood or earthquake.) You also have to hope that your computer can still read the back up medium - remember the 3 and ½ inch floppy disk?

More adventuresome people might backup their desktop to their laptop, with the hope that the laptop will survive it’s next drop.

You will also have to remember that burned CD’s or DVD’s will not last forever, and hopefully the JPEG format for pictures will still be around in 2020.

If your family photo album is small you might be able to put the backup onto an 8 GIG flash drive. Or if you have a large photo collection you will need an external disk drive.

Having two backups is a good idea. If your computer fails then you have two threads to recover your lost data.

Backup software

I’m currently using SyncBack which is a freeware program and it allows for backup or synchronization. Microsoft also has a similar product.

If you have added pictures to your photo album you can run the program to just backup the photos that are new (an incremental backup).

If you have a laptop and a desktop and are putting photos on whatever is handiest at the moment then the synchronization feature is really handy as it looks at both sources and automatically copies the missing photos to the other machine.

Backup needs to be done.

Every hard disk will eventually fail and every computer will become obsolete. Hopefully your family photo albums will keep pace with the changes in technology. Having backups that work and that you can recover from is important.

About Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets is a collaborative project that was contributed to by diverse members of the sex industry and their community.

About the Project

Who Contributed?

Some of this information may be outdated. Please feel free to comment below the relevant posts and information you'd like to add or update. Your help is appreciated.

Thank you for your commitment to supporting health and safety in the sex industry.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts (Annie)

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