IRC – Stay Safe Online

Stay Safe Online:

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It is a form of multi-user text messaging via the Internet through programs called ‘clients’. These clients connect to the servers that are part of a network. Once connected to a server on a network, the user can access various ‘channels’, which are forums for group discussions.

Jarkko Oikarinen developed the IRC in August 1988. Since then, thousands of users are using it to interact online. Each user uses a ‘nick’ or nickname to chat online. Channels usually begin with‘#’.

Thus, a channel name might be #channel. Channels might be made for general discussion or discussion on certain specific topics. The channel operators or ‘ops’ moderate them. Additionally, there might be ‘voices’ within a channel. These are users with the privilege of deciding, who can speak and who cannot within that channel.

Finally, IRC also allows private discussions between two users through a private channel only visible to the two.

Security:

It is important to remember that the use of IRC can compromise the security of one’s computer. For this reason, it is imperative for you to set up a host of security measures. In addition, file sharing online should be dealt with caution.

  • Trojans and viruses install themselves through downloaded files. If you receive a file, make sure that you know what the file contains and is sent form a trustable and known sender.
  • Equip yourself with a virus scanner and keep it updated. An outdated scanner will be no good against any new infections.
  • Install a firewall. This added security measure works only if your computer itself is secure.
  • Whatever operating system you use, update it with the security patches your system vendor provides.
  • Do not run a new script unless you know what every line of the script stands for.

Another kind of attack could be a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. These attacks are usually not personal, but are large-scale attacks. They twist the limitations of networking services to disconnect the user from their IRC server or Internet Service Provider.

  • Use a proxy-server to hide your actual IP address. This way, any viruses sent to your visible IP address will not affect your system. This is only useful in small DoS attacks.
  • You could contact your Internet Service Provider to set up a firewall for you. This will help avert the attacks before they find their way to your system.

If you are careful while conducting interactions and transfers online, your computer automatically stays safe.

Etiquette to be Maintained While Using IRC-

Like all interactive groups, channels on IRC maintain decorum through certain norms. Not respecting these can get the user ‘kicked’ out of the channel for a fixed period of time or even permanently.

  • Do not type using all CAPS. This is considered shouting and is generally not appreciated.
  • Use proper terms. For example, do not mix up channel with chat rooms.
  • Respect the channel operators. They run the show in the channel, and getting into their bad books will only lead to trouble for you, as opposed to a good time.
  • Do not repeat yourself too many times. This can be annoying.
  • Avoid flooding the channel, that is, do not insert more than four lines of text. Powerful flooding can cause the systems of other users to crash.
  • Though a wide variety of colors are available in which you can type your text, avoid using too much of color as this could distract other users.
  • Treat other users with respect. Do not be rude or aggressive.
  • If some user is causing trouble to you, do not respond in kind. Most of these troublemakers are attention seekers, so ignore them. If that does not work, talk to the channel operator. Responding in a similar fashion as that of the troubling user will get both of you in trouble.

It is important that you recognize the norms of the chatting community in general. In addition, keeping your computer safe is very important, as IRC can expose your system to various perils lurking in the World Wide Web. As long as you maintain etiquette and take proper security measures, you can remain secure while using IRC.

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