Usenet Newsgroups Security

The uuname program will send only the site name and not the entire contents of the L.sys file, thus, phone numbers and passwords are not transmitted.

Mark Horton; Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages; RFC 850; June 1983.

See the Internet security section for more information on general Internet security issues. The primary security risks for Usenet are the absence of confidentiality and the potential to attract spam email, as described below:

  • Confidentiality. There is no confidentiality on the Usenet, and anyone’s postings can be read by anyone else with access to the Internet. Your postings are almost certainly archived, and will be accessible for years — for example, the Google Groups database goes back more than twenty years. Note that these archives can be searched by email address and other keywords (like your name) to find all your postings going back many years.

    You can prevent some archiving with the x-no-archive command. But, in general, you shouldn’t post anything to the newsgroups you might later mind being part of the Usenet permanent record.

  • Spammers. Spam emailers run automatic programs that read the newsgroups and pickup email addresses. They store these email addresses in a database, and then sell them to marketers that send you unwanted spam email. You can guard against this by taking the precautions described in the section on how to disguise your email address.