Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Internet Safety (updated)

(This post has been updated at the bottom of the page.)

Recently, on several blog posts, I mentioned in passing that I'm not allowed to read other people's blogs or post comments. When quite a few people, in both comments and e-mails, asked why this is the case, Jason and I both explained that it was an issue of safety. I posted a detailed response in the comment section to one post, and Jason posted his explanation in his post HERE (be warned -- with all due respect to my husband, it's a bit more crass than what I usually post and may offend some conservative readers). 

Jason and I were both a bit surprised that people didn't know online activity can be tracked. We talked it over and thought it would be best to post a thread on internet safety.

Before I begin, I'm aware of the fact that this thread will likely cause people to be reticent in commenting, so I'd like to address my fellow bloggers. I jokingly commented that I could sub-title this post "In which, JGirl never gets another comment again." My dear fellow bloggers -- please understand that I'm not trying to be an alarmist. There are many, many people in the community who are very trusting, and it concerns me. I apologize if my concern causes a lack of dialogue in comments and the like. Comments are fun to get. It is, after all, somewhat disheartening to spend hours writing and get no feedback. It feels like you're talking to yourself. You're not. Keep on blogging. There's a need for others in the community, who are attracted to this alternative lifestyle, to feel understood. The lack of comments doesn't indicate a lack of interest in your blog. For what it's worth, I get maybe one percent feedback -- for every five hundred hits I get to a post, I will likely get less than five comments. So please, don't be discouraged from blogging. If your post helps even one person, it's worth it. 

This all came about because I had some unpleasant experiences here on my blog. I had one person in particular who repeatedly attacked me and Jason. Over, and over again, they attacked and when other readers came to my side, they attacked my readers. At first I set up my blog to moderate comments and would simply delete the nasty ones. But this all began at a time when I was robbed (someone broke into my car), and I was pretty freaked out. I wanted to stop this person from reading my blog. So Jason and I did some research. 

Blogger itself does not allow tracking of IP addresses. Blogger has a limited stat counter. With some behind-the-scenes digging (under the "design" feature at the top of the owner's page), I can easily see where hits are coming from, how many hits in a day, how many comments I get, if people are re-posting or linking to a post, etc. But I can only see if people who have Blogger I.D.'s are posting. That's about as far as Blogger goes. Clearly, people who have malicious intent are going to post anonymously. There is no way through Blogger to track anonymous comments, other than to maybe see how they got to your blog. 

So we looked into other methods. There are many. Statcounter is the one I went with. It's free, it's easy, and literally minutes after hooking my blog up to statcounter, I had detailed information as to who viewed my blog, what they read, where they lived, their IP address, how long they visited, how often, etc. I set this up for the sole purpose of tracking the person attacking us, and I was successful. It was very easy to match the time of the comments to an IP address. I banned that IP address and that was that. 

While I was tracking, I found the stats very interesting and would take an occasional peek through to see which countries readers came from. But out of respect to the privacy of my readers, I stopped looking at any tracking information after I was able to block the attacker. However, for my own safety reasons, I still have my blog linked to statcounter, in case anything like this happens again. 

This wasn't all that happened, however. Other issues came up as well. I do not want to cause suspicion to fall on any one person; nor do I want to violate any confidentiailty. So I will speak in very general terms. These are some of the things that have happened that I, and likely many of you, though not all, have become aware of. 

Men in the community posing as women, garnering private information, establishing trust, and violating that trust. One person posing as a "couple," also establishing trust and getting money from people with sales of books, affiliate links, and network fees. Several people creating false identities, forming friendships, only to violate those friendships. There have been cases when some of these people actually raised money for a "cause." Who knows what they did with that money raised. Men posing as Doms, even establishing relationships with submissives, only to rob them of their money and leave them penniless and heartbroken. Men posing as women who are prominent members of the blogging community. 

Why do people do this? Maybe they get a rise out of it. Some do it under the guise of "research." Some are just creepers. But some have much more dangerous motives. So please, be careful. And from your own persective, try not to get offended if people don't want to share their personal information. It is wise not to be trusting.

My blog has been linked to porn sites. I've received offensive, vulgar e-mails, have been propositioned, and even received financial offers from porn sites who want to link to my blog and give me an affiliate link. No, thank you. 

This is all to say...please, proceed with caution. This is why Jason doesn't allow me to read or comment on blogs. This is why my access to the DD community is severely limited. 

Jason and I are a very real couple. But we're a couple just like you. I am a submissive, and he is my dominant. I am also a writer, so sharing our experiences comes fairly naturally to me. That is why we blog, to give a real-life glimpse into a d/s dynamic. But we have a family, and we need to protect our family's safety. Although we have a very small number of real life friends and family who know about our lifestyle, we mostly keep it private. Friends and family do not know I blog. It really is a shame we have to be so secretive, but it is what it is. 

My personal belief is that most people are good. But you really never know who isn't. It is also my personal belief that the truth always outs in time. So please, readers. Be safe. There is no need to rush into trusting someone. Take your time, and be cautious.

Someone asked how to post on blogs without being able to be tracked. I'm not sure about that, but I can tell you that it is more difficult to track mobile devices than personal computers and email is a safer way of communicating. 

Please, feel free to share this post. It is admirable to be a trusting person, but this is one area where I would caution you to be very careful. If anyone has any further information for readers, please comment in the section below or send me an email at jasonsgirl001@Gmail.com.

Be safe, people. 

Jason and Jason's Girl

Edited: 
It's come to my attention that some readers took the main point of this post to be that it's never safe to post on any blogs, anonymously or not. That wasn't my point at all. My point is that the internet is not a safe place, and in the interest of being safe, please use discretion when posting. Some people are absolutely trustworthy. I've made some really amazing friends in the community. I'm not suggesting not to trust anyone -- I'm merely suggesting we use caution online, as sometimes things aren't as safe as they may seem. Once we know what the possible dangers are, we can act accordingly. 


To answer some questions that were raised: 
Incognito browers do not prevent your IP address and location from being shown to websites you visit; they merely prevent your visits being recorded in your history. 

Clearing your history only removes a "cookie" on your computer. This does nothing to hide your online activity from websites you visited. 

Proxy servers and other anonymous browsing options are available, which block websites from viewing your location; please read comments below for more details. 


35 comments:

  1. The internet is far from perfect and I'm wary of it. My blog isn't searchable on Google, I expect that reduces my readership, but it means I don't get many spammers. I use Google Analytics occasionally. It gives completely different stats to Blogger, which goes to show numbers lie.
    I have to trust that I'm not alone in being trusting, it is the only way I can keep blogging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, DelFonte.
      There's a big difference between being savvy about internet dangers and making educated decisions as to how to proceed, and not knowing and putting yourself at risk. I, like you, also make decisions with how to proceed (with Jason's decided opinion, of course lol). For example, I keep blogging, too. I have a very small number of people I've met online who know my real name, location, etc. There has to be some level of trust at some point, and it's totally up to the couple to decide when and how they'll exercise that trust. So that's all to say that I completely respect your decision, and wasn't trying to imply that what Jason and I do should be what others do. I was only trying to explain what the dangers are so people can act in whatever way they see fit.

      You're right about numbers, they do lie. Statcounter always gave me very different numbers than blogger. Eh, it is what it is. I mostly look to see which posts are read because feedback is so limited, and I like to know which posts provoke interest.

      Delete
  2. I don't understand much about the whole internet thing. I guess I'm pretty trusting of people and that may too naïve but the flip side is not having people to share this with. I hope at some point you can come back to visiting other's. I like your blog and I'd really like to hear your words when I have a post. Maybe someday you'll feel comfortable coming back. Either way I know I'll come to see what you have to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clara, I'll be honest. It can be a very lonely place to be, at times. I've been struggling with that a lot myself lately. I'm honored my opinion means something to you, so thank you for that. If ever there comes a time you'd like to discuss something, please feel free to email. Furthermore, I'm not sure your blog is on my blog roll, so I'll see that it is.

      Delete
  3. I am such a babe in the woods here. I am not very technical, I read blogs I like and if I get comments I am not keen on (there is one very seedy sounding chap who comments) I simply delete them. I am who I am but had no idea that anyone could track where I am, makes me wonder now actually if maybe I shouldn't be out here :(
    I enjoy reading your blog, even if Jason has now scared me to death!!
    love Jan,xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry if we've scared you, Jan. :( But I am glad you know what the dangers are now. I am really trusting as well...if it weren't for Jason I would trust so much more! Honestly, the restrictions I have are mostly his call, as I know I wouldn't take the hard line he does. It's human nature to want to trust...

      Delete
  4. Thank you for the info. I'm pretty sure that people can hide their IP address by going through a proxy to comment. The problem is that evil people can do this, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Someone explained below. Maybe something to look into.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the info, but I am so technically challenged I don't know how to track with what is available on blogger now. I know a complete moron when it comes to IT - it comes with the age. Anyway, I will look into statcounter.

    I'm with DelFonte, if you're going to blog, you have to trust and just hope for the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes...as I explained, my point in posting is to just lay it all out so people can make their own decisions. That's what I do, too...continue blogging and take those leaps of faith where some trust is concerned, but the boss is a bit less trusting...

      Delete
  6. I wonder why it would matter if you read others blogs without commenting? Not asking this to be rude or condescending, it's a legitmate question. I would compare you having your own blog that people can track and find things out about you through and/or having a fb or an Amazon account or an eBay account or anything that would leave you vulnerable to hackers, but I don't understand the reasoning for not visiting other blogs? A simple history delete will take care of that, and regardless if you comment or even take things to heart that you find (I'm almost positive I know three of the blogs you mentioned in your post) I don't see how visiting a blog is any different than visiting a regular website or even reading a blog that was about say--cooking? My husband is an incredibly paranoid person but he has never had a problem with me reading. I don't leave comments often, but this one piqued my mind as I am somewhat familiar with the courses of IT and I can't quite understand where your husband is going with the safety of visiting blogs, since that's harmless as long as you aren't commenting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A history delete would remove any tracking from YOUR computer, but not the interent. The difference between reading a ds blog and reading a cooking blog is that I don't really see a reason as to why a chef would want my personal info, so I feel less at risk.

      If you read below, someone else explained the danger better.

      That said, my prohibition from reading other people's blogs is not only because of the safety factor, though that's the primary reason. He's kind of old fashioned, and feels sometimes the content is something he'd rather me not read (sexually explicit, etc.) For example, I'm not allowed to read "fifty shades." Just how he is. But I'm allowed to read and some watch things he's screened first; he makes that call. It's okay if others don't get that. He can be...really overprotective. But I'm okay with that. I mostly love it...

      Delete
  7. Thanks for your honesty and the information. I'm sorry there are some who don't take trust and safety seriously. You and Jason are amazing...keep doing what you do, your way! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mandy. You're a sweetheart. I saw your comment come in my inbox, and it made me smile and I thought to myself "she will leave something encouraging." So thank you for that. :)

      Honestly, it's totally okay with me that others have different views on safety and the internet. In no way do I expect others to follow the expectations Jason has for *me.* I just want folks to know what's out there and do what they feel is best.

      Delete
  8. As an IT professional, I share Jason's concerns. I will come out of lurker status to comment on a few comments. Every time you go to a website, any website, your IP address is shown to the website so it knows where to send the content. This is true whether a comment is left or not. With research, it's possible to trace that IP back to you. If you can't trust the operator of the website/blog they may have malicious intentions and by browsing their site you just told them some of your interests.

    If you don't know what an IP address is, a street address is a perfect example. The IP is your computer's address on the internet. The IP can be hidden, but it's not always simple to setup. I use a commercial VPN service. For a few dollars a month, all of my internet traffic is encrypted and sent through a tunnel to that company's computers. As a result, a website administrator will see that company's IP instead of my own when I visit their site. Other ways to do this include using Tor or a proxy as mentioned in comments earlier. A proxy functions very similar to a vpn, but it doesn't have an encrypted tunnel to pass the traffic through. Tor is also similar, but passes the traffic through a chain of servers. More can be read at this link if people are interested.
    https://thetinhat.com/tutorials/darknets/tor-vpn.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your informative response (and for validating the boss's concerns). Good to know!

      Delete
  9. Very much needed post, and I have to admit, it took me a while to realize the dangers too. My first year in blogland was spent frolicking around it seems compared to how much I have dialed back on it simply because of safety concerns.

    And I often wonder if people think DH and I are the person posting as two different people, but it doesn't really matter. I blog mostly for myself anyway. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Julia. Same here. Before Jason was as strict as he is now, I had a lot more freedom and I made some bad decisions. I wish I hadn't been as trusting as I was.

      That's funny that you've wondered that. Honestly? Every single concern I've had about other people I've wondered if others thingk about me! ("Do they think I'm fake? Do they think I made Jason up?") But I really feel if you're a trustworthy person, it shows in time, so I don't let it bother me much anymore!

      For what it's worth, I never suspected your blog was anything but legit. It's too raw and honest. And your dh writes very differently than you do (as Jason writes differently from me). In fact, your blog was the first blog Jason suggested I read, for the reasons I mentioned. He said it was "raw and honest."

      Delete
  10. First, I think this is a very important discussion and I have often wondered what others thought about Internet safety along with what others might do to protect themselves, so thank you for sharing!

    Now for a question - some browsers have a "private" or "incognito" window that you can browse through, does this feature actually do anything to protect us viewers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jay.

      I'm assuming an incognito window has some kind of encryption, but I'm not sure how reliable it is.

      Delete
    2. Did a bit of further research; it appears "incognito" browsers will prevent any websites or internet browsing from appearing in your history, but still allows websites you visit to see your IP address, etc.

      Delete
  11. Safety first! There are some very odd people out on the net and with little more than your IP they can sometimes track you.

    If you are uncomfortable in any way with that possibility, while you can use anonymizers, it is probably best to remain silent save on your own blog.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jason's Girl -
    First of all I have to say this is a very thorough post; as per usual.

    Thank you for posting this and sharing all the insight. Overall, I do believe people should be more cautious when online than they tend to be. It is unfortunate, but true.

    Interesting enough, I was more disappointed to find out some of the other community issues that you stated. The men posing as women, or as a couple when not; etc. I apparently am out of the loop on these stories if they re common knowledge. I was well aware that this happens all the time thanks to the anonymous nature of the internet, but still disappointed to hear about it hear. Not exactly sure how you learned all that and it appears as if you'd rather not call out certain bloggers; which I understand the rationale.

    As far as these people are concerned; why the need to be deceitful? Obviously there are those who intend to take advantage of others financially; but apart from those, taking advantage of a friendship; really? Sad.

    Yet, I've had similar concerns about what my readers might think of my blog ("Is this guy real? Is all this made up?"), but I too sometimes question the validity of other blogs at times as well. The fact is I started my blog to help others feel accepted and share relatable experiences and shared interests and preferences. when I write I think I make it clear what is real and what is fiction. It is unfortunate you can't share your opinion of how I coma across on my posts, but I understand why Jason forbids visiting the blogs.

    Best,
    Enzo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Enzo. I appreciate your thoughtful response.

      It is very disheartening. It's actually made me angry, at times, when I feel like I've trusted someone who was dishonest. The scenarios I've mentioned here have come from multiple sources I consider reputable. One person actually came forward and admitted she'd fabricated her blog (so there is none to call out. we can only hope others come clean as well, because with only theory and hearsay, there's no concrete proof. In the meantime, I think it's best to be wary.

      Why lie? I suppose there are many reasons. Some enjoy the attention, perhaps. Maybe some are lonely. Like you, I wanted to blog to make others feel accepted and to share experiences. But also, like Julia mentioned above, I blog for myself. That said, the temptation is there to want to be popular and garner readership. (However, not being allowed to comment on other's blogs will burst that bubble lol).

      For what it's worth, I used to read your blog. I found your blog authentic, which is why I put it on my blog roll. I found much of what you said similar to Jason's POV and his style as well (somewhat blunt and edgy lol).

      Delete
  13. Having been the owner of various DD forums and blogs for several years, I have to say that people *commenting* on a blog have little or nothing to worry about in terms of being tracked or "outed". Certainly they are at no more risk than those who actually *have* a public blog like this one.

    The fact of the matter is that any information that you *can* track leads only to the blogger's public profile and to whatever details that they have *chosen* to make public on that profile. For sure you can track their internet moves through a counter but that doesn't tell you anything about their real identity and it has no effect either way on your blog comments or theirs in terms of security.
    Forum owners do have fractionally more information, but they are bound by law not to misuse this and it is hidden from public.

    While by tracking their blogger through a counter, you can possibly familiarise yourself with the less desirable blog 'trolls' who are posting false information, this obviously has absolutely no bearing or effect on your safety or security as a commenter or blogger.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for your input. I do think that the possibility of tracking is very slim, but just wanted everyone to know the potential dangers so they could make wise decisions.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's good to be aware, certainly, but everyone has to find their own personal comfort zone. Informative post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree, Grace. I hope I communicated that effectively. I certainly don't expect everyone to follow Jason's expectations for me. It's a very personal decision! Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  16. Scary world. Thanks for the info. H sees this and I may have the same rule.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Software engineer here.

    An IP address gives your location away down to your suburb, at best. It also shows your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you are engaging in an illegal activity, the court will subpoena your ISP and get all your account information;
    otherwise, you are reasonably safe.

    If you don't want your IP known, a few bucks a month get you a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which will obfuscate your IP address reliably. Again, probably not reliably enough to hide from the law, but I am pretty sure you are not trying to, based on reading your blog.

    Or you can post from Starbucks far enough from home. Then again, I don't trust these guys' customers and VPN from there anyway.

    The rest of what you've described is more in the realm of social engineering. A reasonable adult should be able to withstand social engineering attacks once warned about them. Do you feel it would be difficult for you to exercise precautions?

    Also, it's a good idea to have a special email address, just for Blogger.

    ReplyDelete

  18. Socializing is such a basic human need, especially for women, is not it? What do you guys do when what you call Jason's overprotectiveness clashes with a basic human need of yours? Maybe not in this particular case, but has it happened before? When he forbids something terribly important to you, do you have a mechanism for communicating that, and does he change his mind once he finds out it's really important to you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This post is over two years old, and things have changed regarding safety as I interact as an author. Honestly, I can't recall a time in recent years that Jason's restrictions have stifled my need to socialize in the least. If anything, I'd probably prefer to be less social than I am, and as my readership grows, will likely pull away socially.

      If it DID happen that I found I was not having a need of mine met, I'd simply discuss it with him. He always tries to meet my needs, and we'd discuss it through.

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by! We'd love to hear from you.

Dissenting comments are welcome but please, be polite. Any rude or slanderous comments will not be published.