General information on security
Spinchat.com is as safe as the Internet itself. The following comments can thus be applied to any other function of the Internet and do not only concern Spinchat.com, but basically all websites in the net.
- We recommend that you always use the most recent version of your system on your PC. Check regularly whether there are any new security bug fixes for your system and if so, please install them.
- We recommend that you use the most current version of a virus/trojan scanner on your PC. You will find a complete overview with regard to this topic here Heise-Verlags. We recommend the use of Avira as virus scanner.
- We recommend Firefox for browsing.
- In order to use the chat to its full extent, you need Java. We recommend Java by Sun.
Can anyone hear what happens in a private chat/dialogue??
If dialogue participants do not report abuse via the button that is available in the dialogue window, private dialogues will not be stored permanently and cannot be viewed by Support, admins or operators. If a dialogue participant reports abuse via the button available in the dialogue window, the last 30 minutes of this dialogue will be stored permanently and in a tamper-proof manner from the volatile main memory of the chat server into the database in order to process the complaint. We have invested a lot of work into finding the best possible compromise between privacy on the one hand, and the proof of complaints on the other. We have not taken the easy way out.
You should never forget that the Internet itself has never been construed with a particular focus on safety. Basically, also e-mails, for instance, can be read on the net, and with approximately the same effort, this is also theoretically possible in a chat - whereas the probability that this really happens (for e-mails as well as for a chat) is quite low. But you can never exclude this possibility completely.
Therefore you are better off not transmitting any confidential information via the Internet.
In the few cases in which somebody actually knew what was going on in a non-public dialogue could be explained very easily: The dialogue partners had forwarded their private recordings of a dialogue. In rare cases, dialogues and chats were also eavesdropped upon by trojans installed on the PCs (see also the point "Caution with respect to files from non-trusted sources").
Don't be too trusting with personal data!
You should really think twice before you tell someone you do not know _personally_ (real) your telephone number, address or your full name with place of residence (or the like). A lot of mischief has been done with such data, and you could easily find, for example, a contact ad in your name and with your telephone number somewhere in the net.
Always bear in mind: Which data would I confide to a complete stranger that I have just met for the first time in a bar?
Dealing with passwords
Change your passwords for all services you use on the net on a regular basis (for example every two months).
Never use the same passwords for different services - otherwise, the provider of miniwebsite XYZ for instance might be able read your e-mails once he/she knows your password - which is always the same.
If in doubt, it is always much safer and better to have many different passwords and to write them down on a piece of paper that you keep at home than to use only one password for all services just because you do not want to remember different passwords.
Should you have forgotten your password for the Community, you can set a new one. You will find the option to do this on the log-in-page under "Already registered?".
Caution with files from non-trusted sources!
You should also be careful if you receive files from source which are not necessarily trustworthy and open them. However, this hardly affects the chat itself at the moment as Spinchat.com does not provide any possibilities to transfer files.
You should get used to updating your PC with the most current versions of virus-/trojan scanner on a regular basis.
Be careful if you have any so-called data releases for network users! More than once, Windows users with these settings were online and offered read- and write-rights for their hard drives to the whole world.
Do not open any e-mail-attachments if you do not know the sender! Do not open them either if the file type is unfamiliar to you or if the text in the e-mail sounds strange to you.
Also, be careful with e-mails from senders you know but which have a topic/subject or content and manner of description that does not correspond to the people who have this e-mail address.
If there is, for instance, a link in this e-mail that you are expected to click on, do not do it. Do not open any attachment and rather ask this person whether this e-mail really comes from him/her.
Because _anyone_ can use the name or the e-mail address of a stranger as sender!
You will find more detailed information from a competent source on the pages of Heise-Verlags.
What should I do if I really get a virus or a trojan at some point?
First: You cannot get a virus or trojans just by chatting! Or at most if you, very carelessly, open files you received from other chatters. In this case, please do not blame us - we have done everything we could in order to protect you from such experiences. But in the end, this mostly depends on your own behavior (see previous paragraph).
First you should find out which virus/trojan you have (if possible) - and install a virus-/trojan scanner. This might enable you to clean your hard-drive of this virus/trojan.
Even if you are absolutely sure that you have got the virus/trojan from another chatter in the chat, unfortunately, we cannot do anything against this person. For we are not able to check whether these accusations are correct; meaning neither whether your system was attacked at all, nor whether your suspicion against the responsible is actually justified.
What is an IP? Help - somebody is using my IP!
The IP (four single digits separated by commas) identifies your PC on the net. If you have one of the common providers, you will be assigned a definite IP usually by random selection when dialing in. Only in corporate or university networks, every PC often has its own, permanent IP.
If someone actually has your IP, he/she theoretically has the possibility of responding to your PC externally - but only as long as you are are online with this IP. When you log in again you will normally receive a new IP.
Despite all rumors to the contrary, it is not a kind of protection if you keep your IP somehow "secret". Due to the technology of the net, anyone who knows how can gain access to the IP:
You are visiting the homepage of a friend? Now, he/she most probably has your current IP. You use eDonkey, ICQ, MDN, AIM or similar programs? Then, your IP is most probably publicly available to anyone.
As IPs are constructed systematically, it is not a problem to "guess" valid numbers. It is mostly not about target-oriented attacks that concern computer systems on the net (meaning someone wants to hit exactly you), but the attackers search for insecure systems completely automatically and systematically. It is mostly not of any interest to them that this might be specifically your computer.
So, in short:
- If you have protected your computer reasonably well by installing the most current security patches, by using a proper firewall (and we don't mean these horrible "personal firewalls" - there already is a cheap integrated solution such as DSL modems with a built in NAT routing - get something like this) no one can harm you, even if he/she knows your IP.
- However, if your computer is not protected properly, you can keep your IP as secret as you like. The probability that you will experience a successful hack-attack within a year of using the net still tends towards 100%.
Via the IP, prosecuting authorities can find, for example, chatters who have had charges filed against them due to a misbehavior in the chat. As initially said, you are not online anonymously at all in the chat - contrary to what is commonly believed. Any chatter can be traced, anyone can be detected!
Especially the ones that want to misuse the chat for whatever reasons should take that into consideration and refrain from their doing!
What protects me really?
If you really want to protect yourself against attacks on the net, please never rely on secrecy (also referred to as "Security through Obscurity")! There is simply no point in trying to keep e-mail addresses, IPs or the like secret.
You should rather check whether your computer is fully protected!
Always use the most current virus/trojan scanners, maybe use a firewall (we are talking about real firewalls, not the terrible (personal firewalls" from windows) and install the most current security bugfixes of your operating system provider! Only by doing all this will you be protected as well as possible.