Thanks for the reply.
I'm from the 'dial-up bulletin boards' of the old days as well. Where 'Admin' was the Administrator, not like our sales (in charge) staff, these days!
Yes it was all about blocking ports and ideally running Linux including personal firewalls, so that was interesting. I supported on many of them (even back then) and I think I may have been one of the first to do so. I think I've used every IP changer; multiple proxy and even multiple firewall (allowing each other) and a range of port scanners and detection software packages that always informed me if I was being 'looked at'. Plus with a fully locked down hardware firewall and obvious OS (sometimes live Linux) whilst checking what changed on every Internet session I went on. So, yes I'm aware of PC Tools and when Symantec was the Antivirus of choice! (now not ever required) Symantec purchasing PC Tools and even Sygate, at which time I stopped using them.
As you are likely aware, your ISP does NOT like going to other sites or clicking on links. Its that old concept of they will work it out without the help of others who could potentially harm their own Servers (including the FBI). This non community Internet networking principle still seems to hold true today. News sites don't seem to care though! Lol.
I attended as many bulletin boards as I could (back then) and hacking and anonymity was all the go.
People (such as me) would go to great lengths to remain anonymous. The Internet, these day, has done a total backflip on that. Most users, these days, do not understand what I mean about privacy. Basically if you're on the Internet then you're known.
Oh a note on OS re-install (also relevant to topic). Images take about 30mins to an hour (or a little more sometimes) to fully recover from a blank hard drive. Quite obviously your images (?) are either too old or your drive (data and OS and programs and settings) are just too full? I will say that if you did decide to re-install, you are also best to change your physical hard drive too, since the serial number has likely been sent all over the Internet by now as well (another privacy concern). And a full rootkit scan probably wouldn't go astray either.
Nice chatting, 'nearone', I don't know of that 'handle' though