IRC Safety   .... by Starrie

Welcome to the land of IRC. The following tips are given with your safety and enjoyment in mind. While IRC is a wonderful and exciting place to meet friends from all over the world, it is a reflection of the "real" world and contains inherent dangers. The majority of the people you will meet on IRC are here for the enjoyment, just as you are. However, as in the real world, there are BAD people here also. The following are some tips for "IRC-Smarts" which are just as important as "Street-Smarts" for everyone of any age or gender.

  1. Use a "gender-neutral" nick. Using a "come-on" or "ever-so-pretty" nick will result in many unsolicited private chats and perhaps trouble that you hadn't bargained for. Be aware that the most innocent sounding nicks could easily be a preditor. Remember that nicks are not registered on Undernet and many other nets. Anyone could use a friend's nick pretending to be them. To be safe, become familiar with your friends host and type /whois nick to be sure it is indeed your friend.
    TO DO: Tutorial on the /whois command as well as information about reading hostmaks Modify this one perhaps: Mask Types - How to Read Them
  2. Never give out a/s/l information or any other private information such as: Real Name, City, Phone Number, or Credit card information. Be very cautious in revealing your E-mail address and make sure you know the person well.
    Addition: Even though mIRC and PIRCH IRC clients do ask for a person's real name to be listed, it is NOT necessary to list anything that is true and accurate. Make something up when requested for this information-- you'll be much safer.
  3. Be aware that your school or city location may be showing in your "host" address. Do a /whois on yourself to see the address everyone sees when you join, quit or part a channel. Usually city locations are abbreviated but easily determined.
    TO DO: Examples: (reference above link to hostmask information)
  4. Be aware that if you use a small ISP in a particular location or area, the location can be easily determined by a "trace" or simply by viewing the ISP's home page.
    Addition: Once someone puts together your location, along with any personal information you then becomes very easy for a preditor to cause problems. KEEP ALL PERSONAL INFORMATION PRIVATE.
  5. Always stay in channels where sexual talk is not allowed and the ops keep a watchful eye. Remember that the ops do not know what is going on in private and no channel can be completely safe. Also, be aware that preditors frequent teen and other channels where they have the best chances of preying upon the unaware. Never join obviously unsafe channels ... not even out of curiosity.

  6. Keep your full name out of your computer. Never insert your full name when installing Windows as communication and other programs can pick up and show this information without your knowledge. If you are using your parent's computer, ask them to change the information and tell them why.

  7. Be careful of revealing which school you attend or which activities you take part in. This gives valuable information to a preditor.

  8. Never respond to "questionable, unsavory or sexual" comments ... either in private chat or in a channel. It is best to put the person on ignore by typing /ignore nick 3 (use their nick and they won't be able to contact you.) \ Also, it may help to let an op know of the incident so that they can warn the person or keep them out of the channel.

  9. Make sure your telephone number is unlisted or un-published. If it is in the phone book, make sure it never shows your street address. Phone books are widely published on the web and easily accessed by people close or thousands of miles away.

  10. If you do make arrangements to meet a friend from IRC, make sure it is in a public meeting place during the day and that others (friends or parents) accompany you. Never make arrangements to meet someone alone or at night.

  11. Know how and where to get help if you need it.
    TO DO: Provide resources about internet safety, links for parents, kids, etc
  12. Be cautious of sharing your photo. You never know where it may end up or who is "looking you over".

  13. Never ever accept files you didn't request. Be sure to type /sreq or be sure that ________ is checked in DCC options. Never accept files even from friends unless you know *exactly* what they do. Your friend may be possibly infected, and sending a malicious file unaware of the virus infection. Many files sound safe and fun but purposely contain malicous coding - trojans/worms/viruses. For more information see: Virus, Trojan,and Worm Information. If you suspect you have been infected, visit here for a comprehensive listing of programs and online scanning sites that can help you: Virus, Trojan, and Security Solutions.

  14. Get safe files such as pop-ups ONLY from trusted sites such as _________________

  15. Know where to get trustworthy help should your computer accidently become infected with a virus/trojan/worm. A phony "cleaner" is being passed around that contains malicious coding.
    TO DO: Note: Let's make a few Undernet references, as well as a few online links with information. Note: Include the official download site of The Cleaner.
  16. DCC chat although considered a more private way of chatting is a direct connection to your computer and could be dangerous. Make sure you know the person first before you chat via DCC.

  17. Remember that you are never obligated in any way to chat privately even after you have helped someone in private. Simply tell the person that you would rather chat in chan with everyone and put them on /ignore if they persist. It helps to have an /alias that quickly and politely lets them know you only chat in channel.

  18. Never acknowledge threats or threaten others.

  19. Be extremely cautious of revealing information on a personal web page and sharing your personal web page with others you have met on IRC.

  20. Use a firewall to help prevent intrusion into your computer and be aware that many "free" programs found on the web include "spy-ware" tracking your internet activities. Although usually harmless, it is always good to know just what is on your computer. For additional resources on firewalls, please visit our comprehensive page here: Viruses, Trojans, and Security Solutions.