Saturday, January 19, 2008


There are more viruses being spread across the internet every day. A few years ago actually encountering a virus was a rare occurrence (despite what the antivirus writers would have you believe). This is no longer the case and you can now expect to encounter viruses on a regular basis. Any computer attached to the internet even for short periods is now a target for crackers who want to distribute their software so that attacks on other systems can be made via a large number of computers not associated with themselves. There is not much that you can do about security on your web site except to make sure that your password is secure and that you select a web host with a reasonable level of security. When it comes to protecting your own computer from viruses and other attacks there is a lot that you can do. There are two pieces of software that it is essential for you to run if your computer is connected to the internet. These are antivirus and firewall software. If you have been listening to the reports of viruses over the last few years you are probably already running antivirus software. There are a number of reasonable antivirus products out there and there are regular reviews in various computer magazines to help you to choose the most effective. If your computer has a permanent connection to the internet then you probably have either a hardware firewall already in place or are running a software firewall. What I am suggesting now is that even if you use a dial up connection and only connect to the internet on rare occasions you still need to be running firewall software to protect your computer from attack. But I don t have anything of importance to anyone else running on my computer, why would anyone want to crack my system? Well it is not so much what is on your system that the crackers are interested in, it is the fact that your system exists that is their main interest. By cracking your system and running their software on your computer (and thousands of others like yours) they can quickly locate more interesting systems to crack. By using thousands (or tens of thousands) of computers like yours they can implement Denial of Service attacks. Why give crackers access to your system and passively participate in their criminal activities when there is free firewall software available that can help to protect your computer from such attacks. How vulnerable to attack is your computer? Find out for yourself by going to Shields Up ( This site can run a probe on your windows computer and find out just how vulnerable that your system is to attack. Crackers run probes just like this one only theirs usually has a malicious payload attached where this site merely uses a benign probe to produce a report for you that identifies How vulnerable your computer is to such attacks. Once you have seen this for yourself, download and install a firewall such as Zone Alarm and repeat the above test. See how much more secure your system is now. But remember that the crackers are always moving the goal posts so once you have done this don t just sit back and think you are safe. Keep your firewall software up to date (just like you do for your anti virus software) and keep an eye out for anything else that you can do to improve the security of your system. Try to keep one step ahead of the crackers if you can. Stephen Chapman runs a computer help website at Internet design/development ebooks and software at Javascript help at

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