Brand-new cyber-world is same as it ever was - By Diane Wagner

The more I fiddle around the Internet, the more I find myself cudgeling my brain to remember the old French saying that translates into "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

One of these days I'll do a search for it.

Right now, though, I have some random musings about life in cyberspace that I want to share.

* The BBC News is reporting on a wave of virtual thefts in Korea, where a whole new police department is being considered to track down scam artists and cat burglars in the gaming world.

Serious players of online games like EverQuest, Star Wars and Galaxies can amass all kinds of valuable items, from invincible armor to magic amulets and the mother of all weapons. Apparently, serious thieves can also break into the virtual armories, take over a virtual house or con players out of virtual accessories. Sound silly?

Then consider this: some of the stolen items may have taken months of hard work to obtain, and they're being sold to other gamers for thousands of dollars. Some cybercriminals actually make a living from their thefts.

What's the difference between a magic sword and a credit card number if either can be stolen and traded for money?

The BBC reports that police in South Korea wrote up about 40,000 Internet crimes in the first six months of the year, and about 22,000 stemmed from online gaming. It not only boggles the mind, it creates an entirely different job category.

Different, but not new. What IS that French saying?

The point is that the Internet may seem alien to some but, despite its intangible nature, it is really very familiar. It's a different reality but, at its core, you still have the same old life lessons.

* Perspective is everything.

About six months ago, I was getting bombarded by about 20 bad e-mails a day offering to boost either my energy, my bank account or a physical attribute I don't have. My Earthlink spamBlocker, on the medium security setting, filtered dozens of other missives but I was really getting annoyed.

Then came the wave of SoBig and other viruses.

After 200 or more pieces of garbage started making it into my in box each day, I upped the setting to high. That blocked everyone who wasn't already in my address book and cut me down to maybe eight or 10 notes a day.

But I needed some of that blocked spam. For one thing, you can't eBay if you don't talk to strangers. So I recently turned my settings back to medium, and everything is fine.

I'm only getting about 20 bad e-mails a day.

* This is as good a place as any to issue a warning to fellow eBayers.

Two or three of my daily spams purport to be messages from eBay, asking me to resubmit my personal information to update their files. The pages have the corporate logo and look entirely genuine, but don't be fooled. They're not.

Don't EVER provide any password, social security number, credit card data or even your name and address in response to any e-mail. If you think there's a problem with an account, go to that company's page and work into it from there.

This is one of those warnings you always think have been issued to death. Then some fool sells his house for plane fare to Florida to pick up his Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes winnings.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-14: There is nothing new under the sun.

Diane Wagner covers county government for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 954-9161 or dwagner@henryherald.com.