See Inside September 2008

Cryptography: How to Keep Your Secrets Safe

A versatile assortment of computational techniques can protect the privacy of your information and online activities to essentially any degree and nuance you desire

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Zack has decided to try out the online dating service He signs up for an account at the Web site and fills in several screens of forms detailing his personal profile and what he is looking for in a potential partner. In no time at all, the service offers him a number of possible soul mates, among them the very exciting-sounding Wendy. He sends her his e-mail address and what he hopes is an engaging opening message. She replies directly to him, and a whirlwind e-romance begins.

Poor Zack. Soon he is also getting numerous unsolicited phone calls from political action groups and salespeople who seem to know things about him, and his health insurance company is questioning him about his extreme-adventure vacations; the unscrupulous owners of Chix-n-Studz have been selling client information. Then there is Ivan, a mischievous co-worker to whom Zack foolishly showed one of Wendy’s e-mails. Zack does not know that several subsequent recent messages supposedly from Wendy are fakes from Ivan.

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