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(SECURITY from page 2)

three groups about personal information they require applicants to list and ways they protect members' info. A gaming group charged with safely protecting your identity also must consider installing virus and spam filters. We are dealing with people that purposely try to seek out someone's info to cause harm. I, unfortunately, was not able to get in contact with any subscription groups that request credit card information, so before ever giving your info to a group or an organization check and make sure about the safety measures they take to protect you and, if you must give up your credit card number and do not feel their website is secure, request a phone number from them in order to complete the transaction.

Seth Cotis, Moderator Chair for the SLA, commented on the steps they take to protect their members' information. "When a person joins the SLA the main info to be protected, obviously, is their email address. We do not wish to see any members end up the victims of spam. As such we have a strict rule that no sim website may display their member's email addresses on their site. Hosts can display their own, in order to make it easier for contact." Seth continued, "We also limit access to the databases our applications go through and only a few (3) admins can get into those. We also encourage our hosts to

keep the mail strings private and only allow private review of the mail string archives." USFS and the FSF have similar practices of masking email address from the general public. "I don't publish email addresses, (I) only publish character names (on sim websites)." Says UFSF Group Leader Ken Gillis. Joe Ferguson, FSF Fleet Command member, comments, "FSF blocks portions of an email address from everyone except hosts and above. If you see a members email address on an FSF site, it might look like 'fsftitan@****.***', which makes the e-mail safe and protected, some other sites do not list e-mail addresses at all and some have found one of many encryption ways to make sure the addresses are safe."

What we have looked at so far, is email addresses. Now lets take a look at online logins for groups and message boards. I'm sure if we took a poll and asked people how many different passwords they use, the majority would say less than 3, most probably 1. So if you create a username and password for a group login or message boards, the odds are that you use the same un and/or password for other types of secure logins: so keeping this info safe is vital. Above all else, your game group needs to make sure your password is safe. A lot of groups store their passwords in their database and do not consider all the risks at hand. By doing so, a problemin the website program could possibly reveal passwords. If no safety measures are in use, hackers can easilyaccess the

server and steal the password file. There are several ways to encrypt a password in a database, and several groups DO encrypt. The most known and used is MD5, which makes even a simple string such as "abc" look like
"900150983cd24fb0d6963f7d28e17f72", this encrypt way ensures that your password is safe. Before you create a username and password for any place review the security measures. Both the FSF and SLA have a username / password login of some kind; both for their group website and for their message boards and both groups encrypt their users passwords to protect the information from being stolen.

The FSF, on their membership application asks for Real Name, Email address, birthday, and gender. SLA and USFS ask for only Real Name and Age. All three groups have safety measures of some kind in place to protect your info. As I have said repeatedly, ask questions before you give up your private info. Unfortunately, there are people who have nothing to do except try and steal peoples information. You need to be the first and last line of defense of your own identity security. BE CAUTIOUS, ASK QUESTIONS and REPORT any breach in security you may notice. Special thanks to Seth Cotis, Ken Gillis, and Joe Ferguson for their help and input. Have fun and game safe!

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Simming it Up! Volume 1, Issue 3 ~ Page 4