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Song Parodies -> "Safe Chat, Please (*Serious*)"

Original Song Title:

"Please Please Me"

Original Performer:

The Beatles

Parody Song Title:

"Safe Chat, Please (*Serious*)"

Parody Written by:

Tommy Turtle

The Lyrics

Has anyone here ever been in an online chatroom, and been bombarded with messages that so-and-so wants to be your friend, followed or accompanied by tons of spam, pr0n links, and probably viruses? TT hasn't for years, and here's why.

Every word of this parody is true. Despite the need for rapid and frequent communication during our collaborations, TT stuck to e-mail and refused real-time chat without a secure, encrypted (encoded) "tunnel" between us, like the one between you and your online bank, visible only to the party at each end. This creates what the geeks call a Virtual Private Network, or VPN -- our own, private little "Internet". Took a "little" bit of time and effort to get it up and running -- anything worthwhile does -- but a one-time set-up, and we're secure and safe for life.

btw, TT occasionally volunteers as a part-time tech support rep and forum moderator at a support forum for a tool for safer web browsing (not chatting), which shall remain nameless, but it's not like he's talkin' off the top of his head here, 'k?

Last night, we chatted: FG, Turtle
We had a conversation, fertile
It's strong; no wrong --
-- From hack-er throng
Encrypted, you see: safe; private, too

Be careful: Yahoo™, AOL™, peeps
Vi-rus-infested sewage hell; creeps:
Spam throng; send pr0n;
Become their pawn [1]
Secur-i-ty, seek, like smart geeks do

I don't want to see your puter
Hacked into by Chinese looter: drive, hard
(Your hard drive, stealin')
What's the US Gummint usin"?
AES, their choosin', and you -- [2]
Oh yeah, yes, you can use it too!

Why not give it a try and see, folks?
It's even absolutely free, folks
Go on, log on
Rely upon;
See: please thee, oh yeah, were we pleased, two!
Scumbag, we de-feased you [3]
Woah yeah, Hamachi™, Woo!

[1] Successfully hacking into someone else's computer so that you have complete remote command of it (often without the owner/user's knowledge) is to "own" it, in hacker slang. The common typo in fast chat of "pwn" for "own" caused "pwn" to become accepted hacker terminology, as a verb. "You've been pwned" means that you are now part of the hacker's army of robot computers, or "bots", at his command, some of whom have been found to have thousands or even milliions under their control. (Look up "Conficker", e. g. at Wikipedia.) The similarity to "pawn" is quite apropos, as you, in effect, become their pawn.

[2] "defease" = to defeat or annul, used mostly in the legal and financial world (to defeat, void, or annul a contract or debt.)

[3] AES = Advanced Encryption Standard, a method of encrypting information (remember your Secret Decoder Ring from the cereal box?), which was chosen by the US Government in 2001 after a five-year competition among the world's best cryptographers (experts in making and breaking codes). It replaced a 20-year-old system that was starting to show a few cracks and was wearing a little thin around the edges, though not yet "broken". In its strongest form, known as AES-256, it is approved for encrypting Top Secret classified information.

Considering how many secrets the US Govt. has, which we'll probably never know, and which they surely don't want us to find out.... if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us.


The Clinton Administration, including "Internet hero" Vice President Al Gore, attempted in 1993 to require all makers of cell phones and similar devices to include the "Clipper Chip", a device that provided encryption, but with the Government holding a secret set of keys to allow them to snoop on any such device. Public outcry and the availability of phones made overseas shot that down in a hurry. It was dead by 1996.

In 1991, Phil Zimmerman invented PGP (for "Pretty Good Privacy", an ironic understatement), a no-cost method for individuals to encrypt and secure their e-mail and other Internet communications. It was embraced, not only by privacy advocates in the US, but also by dissidents in totalitarian countries who were afraid to communicate over the Internet.

In February 1993, Zimmermann became the formal target of a criminal investigation by the US Government (guess who were POTUS and Vice-POTUS at the time?) for "munitions export without a license". Any encryption that was too strong for the US Govt. to break was considered dangerous, and many felt that the Govt. wanted to retain the ability to break US citizens' encrypted communications as well. Penalties for conviction could have been severe.

Zimmermann challenged these regulations in a curious way. He published the entire source code of PGP in a book that was distributed and sold widely. Anybody wishing to build their own copy of PGP could buy the $60 book, cut off the covers, separate the pages, and scan them using an OCR (Optical Character Reader) program, creating a set of source code text files. PGP would thus be available anywhere in the world. The claimed principle was simple: export of munitions—guns, bombs, planes, and software—was (and remains) restricted; but the export of books is protected by the First Amendment. The question was never tested in court with respect to PGP. In cases addressing other encryption software, however, two federal appeals courts have established the rule that cryptographic software source code is speech protected by the First Amendment.

As home computers became more widespread, it was apparent that not just criminals, but all of us, needed safe encryption to do our banking, bill pay, credit card management, and a host of other things. (You also can have free encrypted e-mail, which would have saved a lot of embarrassment for several Administrations; former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer; South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, whose e-mails to his Argentinian mistress became public, etc.) After several years, the investigation of Zimmermann was closed without filing criminal charges against him or anyone else, and strong, unbreakable encryption is now freely available to anyone.


Whenever you visit a secure site. like your bank, look for the little "padlock" icon in the lower-right corner of your browser (any browser, AFAIK, but definitely IE and Firefox). Double-click the padlock and read the box assuring you that the connection is encrypted, and how. If it says "AES-256", they've got the current state of the art. A surprising number of the most high-value targets -- banks -- and others are still using the older RC4-128. Shame on them! AES is free, it's easy for the techies to implement, and it hardly slows things down at all. Even my Yahoo e-mail, which is free, uses AES for the login page on which you submit your username and password. Write such institutions an angry e-mail, demanding that they upgrade.

However, no need to panic -- yet -- or to stop using the sites secured by RC4-128. Cryptographers are the most paranoid people on the planet. (Not surprising -- the combined US-UK effort that succeeded in breaking the German and Japanese codes was essentially responsible for winning World War II, as we could eavesdrop on all of their communications, plans, etc. This is *serious* stuff, folks.) For example, let's say that for a given encryption system, an attacker with the fastest computer would need a billion years to try every possible password, or "encryption key", as the cryptogeeks call it. Now suppose someone comes up with a method that can guarantee the recovery of any key in "only" a million years. Cryptographers would have a heart attack -- that's a thousand-fold decrease in strength, despite being utterly useless to the attacker.

But the rule (in all security) is "Attacks never get worse; they always get better." Now that there's known to be a flaw, someone might find in the next year a method to break it in "only" a thousand years. Then a hundred. Then ten. Hey, your credit card will have expired by then, anyway. But the exploitation of the flaw(s) continues.... Therefore, any method that is faster than trying every possible combination (known as a "brute force" attack), is regarded as a "break", and taken seriously.


The above principle was demonstrated in the first generation of wireless home routers -- the gadgets that you plug into your modem so that you can take your laptop anywhere within range, and still connect to the Net. That communication between laptop and router needs to be secured, else any passer-by with a laptop could listen in. (As I sit here on my own laptop, I can pick up anywhere from two to four other unsecured wireless networks from neighbors and nearby businesses, depending on weather, who's powered on at the moment, etc.)

The first encryption method used, called WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), was seriously flawed. Tools began appearing on the Net to allow attackers to locate the encryption key, and thereby join and snoop on the network, within some number of days of gathering your encrypted communications. Eventually, that was reduced to hours, then to two minutes. Now, any WEP key can be cracked in less than sixty seconds. (Like the movie, "Gone In Sixty Seconds".)

The next generation, an interim product called WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), was designed to be compatible with older routers while providing adequate security, so long as a long, strong password was used. ([Be{u2NPjmt-dk8}6l$@H , e. g., not your dog's, bf's, gf's or bff's name.) The state of the art is now WPA-2. All routers sold today support it, as do some sold since around 2005. If you have a version of Windows XP™ that dates back more than a year or so, your computer might not support WPA-2. An update is available at the Microsoft™ support site, which will quickly add this capability. Then you can change your router 's encryption to WPA-2, if it supports it.

Could this be a "Spam parody"? For something that is absolutely free, no donations, no nag screens, no adware, no spyware, and uses the *only* safe method of Internet chat, whereas the major providers (MSN™, ICQ™, all of them) are insecure, meaning that intruders can snoop; creeps can spam and pr0n you; and hackers can send viruses, worms, and probably HIV, to your computer? TT prefers to think of it as a "PSP", or "Public Service Parody".

Yahoo ® Yahoo, Inc. AOL ® AOL LLC. Hamachi VPN and all related products ® LogMeIn, Inc.. (note that even their home page is via a secure, encrypted connection, like your bank's. They take security seriously.) All else © 2009 Tommy Turtle. All rights reserved. E-mail:

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Voting Results

Pacing: 5.0
How Funny: 5.0
Overall Rating: 5.0

Total Votes: 10

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    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
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User Comments

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AFW - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Most informative and entertaining...I don't do much of that chatting or email stuff anymore, either..
blackjack21 - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
As usual, a good parody and LOTS of info. ;-) Hacking up some fives.
TJC - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Interesting and, per us'eweal, really well done... kinda makes me wish my quantum computin' code buster weren't on the fritz so I could be that proverbial fly on your LOL!
A comic for TT - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Wild guess is you'll like this:
TT - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
AFW: Smart move... it's really going downhill. Thanks for v/c.

AJ21: Could you send them to me over a secure chat line, please? (lol) I'll gladly pwn them from you! ... thanks for v/c!

TJC: Thanks for the quantum leap of faith!

A comic for TT: Do read xkcd occasionally; hadn't seen that one. "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog (or turtle heh heh)". ... Thought they would be getting tested for viruses, but the other point was well made. Thanks for v/c (vote and comic).
Timmy1000 - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Interesting and informative stuff, TT. I always stay paranoid - especially when I ditched my email address book after many people in my address book told me they received an email from me touting some Chinese electronics firm. I'm not sure how that was done, but I read up on others who had the same thing happen.
metaphorsbwithu - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Ben Bernanke was a victim of identity theft. Ugh ... everything has to be so complicated. So many creepy people in the world. 555 for a good PSA parody. No shell-game here. ;-)
Old Man Ribber - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
A hacker once stole my identity...and shortly after gave it back angrily claiming that it had no value whatsoever! ;D 5s for this shellish nightmare.
Fiddlegirl - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
For your services to man- and fiddle-kind, you are to be commended. And I DID read the well-researched and thorough extension. What would we do without you? :D
Tommy Turtle - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Timmy1000: I started receiving spam from another friend. I called it to his attention. He had no idea. I expect his puter was pwned. It happened a second time, and he's either going to take it to the shop, re-format and re-install the OS, or ditch it. You need to get that looked at, because the machine has obviously already been compromised. Thanks for v/c.

metaphorsbwithu : Always have been, always will be. Same crimes, different tools. All we can do is educate ourselves (or let TT educate you LOL!) and practice "safe hex", as the geeks call it. (See TT's parody, "I Am Binary.... Hexadecimal". No plug link.) .. Thanks for v/c.

Old Man Ribber: I'm surprised he didn't sue you :) ... the way the laws in this country work! Thanks for the LOL and the v/c!

Fiddlegirl: Oh, I expect that somehow:

Folks will post, have no fear, without me
AmIRight will be here without me
There'll be Fives for you, Three
Plenty more parody
There will be ChuckyG without me

Your satire will thrive without me
All your fetes will survive without me
All the fans that you gain from your brilliance, so plain
All of them will remain without me
Fine: FG: without me!

You, dear friend, who learned so well,
You can go to top of AmIRight without shell!

They can still run this page without me
You will be all the rage without me
Take my word, wait and see, you'll be fine, guarantee, without me!
Christie Marie M - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Tells all about the risks in internet hacking and illegal possession of confidential information. Oh, and also I am aware of the padlock icon that reminds us that the website is safe. We have to be careful as to what website we go to and to make sure it's well protected from hackers. I rarely open email from spammers as well due to the fact that they may contain viruses. Anyways, great as always, Tommy. The Risk Factor level has reached 555%!
TT - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Christie Marie M: I like my risk factor at 0% if possible, but I like the parody factor at your level! Thanks for v/c, CMM!
Guy - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Well TT you old war driver [1] you - snooping your clueless neighbor's WI FI. When I put my wireless in over a year ago my next door neighbor's WI FI was wide open - She had a root kit [2] on several of her PCs with keyloggers. She was totally clueless. She is now securely computing and very thankful for my effort to educate her.

[1] --- This link will describe what War Driving is.

[2] --- This link will describe what a root kit is and a keylogger.

Excellent parody and most excellent write up. I remember when Zimmerman did his thing. The NSA was not real happy with this guy but the book scheme worked perfectly. I have my Security Plus certification - It is a requirement imposed by my employer and I can't say I blame them for insisting on their employees with privledge to have this knowledge. Much of what you wrote I learned back when as I completed my Security Plus Cert. And the Cert. is a recurring requirement. I have to qualify yearly. So all readers of TT's parody - from one geek reporting on another, he is dead on with what he is talking about. He knows his stuff. Take heed and don't fall victim to unscrupulous eavesdropping electronicly savvy criminals. Nice work here TT. =;-)
TT - September 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Guy: I think I'm a "war sitter". :) I just sit here on my living room or back porch, and the networks show up. And no, I do *not* snoop on them just cuz they show up in "available networks" :) :) :) But yeah, I did go wardriving once, just out of curiosity, and it's amazing how many open networks you can pick up. Or you can go to and look up a map of anywhere in the world (almost), and see what networks, secured or otherwise, are in that neighborhood.

btw, mine doesn't show up -- didn't even mention disabling SSID broadcast, though in truth it's not protection from a truly skilled attacker, as you know. But it keeps you invisible to the amateurs.

Praise is only as worthwhile as the source, so with all of your qualifications and certifications, Guy, your endorsement here means a lot. Thanks, friend. :)
Guy - September 10, 2009 - Report this comment
TT - You sure you didn't snoop just a wee bit? =;-) Did you tell your neighbors or not - maybe you don't like them or know them. The lady next door is a friend - Ther was no question about telling and helping her.

Maybe it more like war swimming for you Mr. Turtle. =;-)
TT - September 11, 2009 - Report this comment
Guy - It was one of two -- couldn't tell which -- left a note on both of their doors, as neither is there very often, explaining the situation and offering to show them how to fix it. Never heard from either. That was a year ago, and that network, plus another one, are still open as we speak.

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