Anyone using a broadband Internet connection should be aware of the
risks and hazards of having an always-on Internet connection. You
may not realize it, but your computer is open to hackers and prying
eyes as long as it is turned on if you have a high-speed Internet
Should I be worried about my computers security?
In one word, yes. Security of your system means that it will not
be used to hack/attack other people's computer, spread viruses, or
inadvertently share pirated content. It also means that your credit
card information and any other personal information on your computer
stays safe. Think of computer security in this way - would you leave
your house unlocked all day, every day, even if you were out of town?
Most people would answer no. If you wouldn't leave your house unprotected
like that, why would you leave your computer vulnerable to attack
or spying? Most people's computers contain sensitive information in
the form of personal emails, and possibly credit card numbers left
over from online purchases. With this in mind, most people would want
this information under lock and key. Read on about how to protect
your computer on the Internet.
Home PC's which are the only computer connected to the Internet
Personal firewalls like McAffe
or BlackIce Defender
are a good start. These programs block any attempts to communicate
with your computer that were not initiated by the user. This can include
hacking attempts, some popup ads, worms, and a variety of other things
that you don't want on your computer. The best thing about these programs
though, is that they allow you to identify the address of the person
attempting to gain access to your computer. This allows you to contact
our abuse department and report them, as many attacks are simply
other users like you, who accidentally got infected with a virus.
Another way to protect your computer is to make sure it is always
up-to-date with the latest security patches from Microsoft.
Security holes exist in every Operating System, and most manufacturers
provide intermittent updates. The latest security issues that you've
probably heard about (MS
have been related to security updates. In both cases, the patches
were released a month before the worms hit the Internet. Anyone that
had patched their systems before that would not have been vulnerable.
This is another example of how something small can save you a lot
Home PC's with multiple systems connected to a Hub
A hub is a simple sharing device that allows several computers to
access the Internet at once. It is not intelligent, and functions
identically to having a single computer on the Internet. This may
or may not work with all high-speed services. All of the precautions
listed for single computers need to be taken into consideration if
you are sharing your Internet connection with a hub.
Home PC's with multiple systems connected to a Router
A router is an intelligent piece of hardware that allows multiple
systems to connect to the Internet at once. Many routers have a built-in
firewall. This will normally protect your computer from most attacks,
but you still need to take care to keep your computer up-to-date with
the latest security patches and virus software.
Most routers, as soon as you purchase them, need what is called a
"firmware upgrade". This is just a simple piece of software,
normally downloaded from the manufacturer,
that enables new features or patches security risks. If you get a
router, or have a router, it is suggested that you go to the manufacturers
website to check for updated firmware on a regular basis.
Another thing becoming prevalent on routers is the ability for wireless
connectivity. This is both good and bad. It is good because it allows
you to connect your computers to the Internet without having to run
wires to them. It is bad because you can't control how far the signal
goes. If you have a router with wireless access, it is suggested that
you set the router to only allow connections from computers you have
told it to allow using WEP
and MAC address filtering. This prevents people from so-called "war
driving", or getting free access to your Internet connection.
A good resource for help with this is Broadband