The Net gets way too much negative press these days. It is almost as if people are so afraid of such a revolutionary change in communication that they try desperately to find its faults. This is the reason we read newspaper articles about how credit card numbers are supposedly stolen off the Internet all the time, and see television pieces about how the people are losing their social skills, becoming Internet junkies. This week it is my mission to debunk some of these myths. Myth Number One: Identification. How do I know that the person or organisation I am dealing with is who they say they are? How do they know I am who I claim I am? OK. I don't see you face to face. I don't hear your voice. You could be an imposter. But how do I know the potential business associates I have just met for the first time are who they say they are? They could be lying when they say they work for some large, well-known corporation. Likewise, when I call the phone number of a famous mail order house printed in an advertisement in a magazine, I have no guarantee that advert is real. Yet, we rarely, if ever, complain about the chances of wrong identification or misrepresentation in these cases. But if you believe the media coverage then we are in grave danger of this happening on the Internet. In reality more work is being done on the Internet to tackle this problem than in any other area. That is why we have public and private key technology, certificates and numerous other security technologies to verify the identities of those on-line. Myth Number Two: The death of social interaction. I watch Internet shows on some of the larger global satellite television stations at frequent intervals. I am always surprised how often these shows, designed to promote the Net, have guests on who seem intent on proving that the Internet and potential addiction to it are the death of people's ability to relate to, communicate with and grow close to others. From my own experience, I know this is not the case. I write books for a large computer book publisher in the United States. Throughout the 18 months I have been working with this company, I have always contacted it by e-mail. Through this process, I have got to know members of its staff better in a matter of months than people I have worked face-to-face with for years. In fact, for some, the somewhat removed nature of Internet communication helps people come out of their shells. Myth Number Three: The Internet is a hotbed of subversives plotting against governments around the world. Every so often the media - especially in the US - enjoys the opportunity to tell the world about some subversive militia group or a militant racist group and reporters get all excited when they can show the group has a Web site as if to prove that because of the Internet millions of people are at risk of being recruited by these organisations. Look at the Net objectively, though, and what we see is pretty tame. Sure, there are dark and dingy corners of cyberspace where the pornographic, violent, and hate-filled Web sites dwell, but they are not out front hitting us over the head when we surf the Web. In fact, what these reporters have never done is report the access statistics for any of these sites that supposedly make the Internet such a dangerous place for the young and faint-hearted. If they did, they probably wouldn't have a story.