Framing Private Ryan
Last Modified On:Oct 21st 2000

J. Oquendo

High tech wars nowadays seems to be a problem which many people overlook. While many would want to justify the means of privacy on the Internet simply for the sake of retaining privacy, others may use this same excuse to justify some means of using this shadow of privacy for means of committing criminal mischief for anything from financial gain, to jealousy, to experimentation. Sky's the limit when thinking of possibilities.

Anyone from the typical citizen whose information is being consumed by some information database, businessmen gathering information via unethical means in order to make a bigger buck, to privacy buffs hellbent on hiding their identity at all costs can end up being victims to someones wrath on the Internet.

Even Microsoft's own Bill Gates fell victim to someone's recent malice when a website was broken into and mentions of Bill Gates intruding into NASA websites was posted.

Clearly one can assume that someone with such prestige, and power such as Bill Gates would never do such a thing, but there are those who could probably conclude that Mr. Gates could have done such a thing in an effort to gain some proprietary software to enhance Microsoft's standings.


It should be of no surprise to anyone with enough experience, the extent of covering someone's identity from perhaps the simplest of spammers, to someone relocating from an estranged spouse in an effort to protect oneself from harm, that information is so readily available to anyone who can type in a name in an effort to gain information on anyone they choose, in todays hi-speed world, with the quickest of ease.

However, what happens when this same information which someone may think is private and may go through all extents to keep their information private, is abused for unknown reasons? Moreover what happens when there is something to gain by committing the perfect crime with the perfect technologies?

How easy would it be for anyone to frame someone in today's new world of information systems, most of which pass somewhere along the line through insecure channels? The sad answer is, who hates you well enough to gather any of your information, and use it for malicious purposes. How far is someone willing to go? How much can someone gain, and how much can someone lose?

It should be said that with today's technologies, one should feel a bit at ease with privacy and security, but with a bit of info and an evil mind, anyone can cause extensive damage to just about anyone they would like to with the greatest of ease, and this is something that should not be overlooked on any level including those in law enforcement and privacy groups.

The jealous friend or spouse, a disgruntled employee, disgruntled employer, government agencies, competitors, these can all be candidates who could possibly destroy lives, careers, friendships at the click of a keyboard.

What do you do? How do you protect yourself?

These answers may not be as simple as one would hope. Using typical, available tools on security related sites, anyone can digitally frame someone for just about anything they'd like. So would it be overkill to think in these terms or simply paranoia?

People can rant on about privacy all they want, they can install the latest in privacy tools, ranging from encryption based tools, to IPSec technologies, but will they hold up in a court of law? Will a court of law understand the extent of someone perhaps spoofing an address? Injecting data into streams? Recreating a complete digital copy of an identity?

What about the victim of a crime such as this? It would be extremely lengthy and expensive trying to prove their innocence to a jury who will most likely not understand technology on this level. Is there hope for someone who cannot afford to prove their innocence?

The answer is no.

No. Today we see governments all over the world quick to jump the gun on investigations often passing up on critical information and victims of a twisted new wave of crime. We see juries who would not know the meaning of TCP/IP with the power to free or convict anyone on trial with the greatest of ease. So again ponder the thought. How easy would it be to frame someone?

Moreover from that thought how do you protect yourself from you being the victim of someone who may think of doing something to you? Again its not a simple answer and one which will have to be thought on with the greatest care and efforts.


Using tools on sites such as PacketStorm, SecurityFocus, one could easily create the perfect scenario to cause damage beyond the typical extent of placing a bloody glove on someone's doorstep without anyone ever knowing how it was done.

Spoofing which isn't a new technique can be so dangerous that anyone with the least technical skills can achieve with ease. With a simple search of one of my favorite security sites, PacketStorm, I was able to locate 243 matches for spoofing related material. Everything from How-To's to programs to automate these tasks which again can be utilized by anyone with basic to an extreme amount of knowledge of computing.

In a typical environment, measures can be installed to prevent these types of actions from happening but again the sad reality is with todays extensive amount of readily available information and techniques, prevention may be far and few away from full security pertaining to this type of warfare. Along with that comes the notion that between every single point in between, all would have to have secure links within the connection and so on and so on.

How many times has anyone gotten spam from an address which seemed rather odd? I know there were times I sent out joke e-mails to friends with odd address on them and it was rather easy. As for the IP addresses that too can be spoofed with tools like Nemesis and some proxy addresses, or anyone with enough skills to execute for whatever underlying factor.

So while everyone screams for privacy concerning tools like Carnivore, I often see that with the advent of insecure systems and new technologies being circumvented on grand scales, I never see mention of instances such as the possibility of someone ruining a life via these means, and how to protect oneself from a situation as this. All I see are cases of agency bigwigs trying to close a case faster than gathering thorough evidence on a crime in an effort to buffer their resumes for future private sector positions, and the notion that they are fighting a "cyber-war" declared on mainly teenagers, who some of which have more skills than these same bigwigs trying to quickly and quietly prosecute them.

Congress is slated to spend about 2billion budgeting money for so called security by 2001, and the private sectors are going ballistic with budgets creating the latest gadgetry and tools to protect themselves, but we still see little mention of actual crimes, and all I see is highly watered down information abroad which many have hints of people who aren't really interested in crime and criminals but rather how much money can they make, or how many products can they sell in the process.

Instances such as this are a bit reminiscent of many slander cases on which someone may have their career or life shattered with the same effect. Consider a teacher or maybe even a politician, who has been accuses of touching a kid. If proven in court nothing existed, the level of trust among his peers would suffer. Its not easy to protect oneself from situations such as these, and in a vast network of improperly configured gigabit networks where 14 year olds dictate how long a site stays online with DoS attacks, law makers and law enforcement should take greater strides to "not" target the wrong person.


Maybe someday soon lawyers can jump on the bandwagon as well and make the same figures as private sector and government agencies sorting out right from wrong on a technical and morally ethical scale from this type of "Selective Justice" running afoul.

Framing Packets
Framing PGP

J. Oquendo

"Fortune was not so completely unfriendly to him that she did not leave him some brief reminder of the force of his intelligence." -- Niccolo Machiavelli Art of War 1516