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TUTORIAL - General - How To - Protect a PC on a Broadband Connection

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					TUTORIAL Networking - How To Protect a PC on a Broadband Connection Using a PC on a network is a double edged sword. Being on a network allows you to use the resources and services of other PCs. Conversely, any other PC on the network may access and use the resources and services on your PC. If not properly protected, an unauthorized user (or program, a.k.a. Virus) can use your PC for any number of nasty purposes. Viruses don't just come in emails, and hackers aren't necessarily after your files. Just because you feel you have nothing worthwhile on your PC won't stop others from trying. A high-speed, “always-on” connection just exacerbates the situation. A cablemodem or DSL connection gives you a wide open doorway into the web. The problem with this arrangement is that a PC network is a two-way street. Just because you're not sitting at your PC won't stop a worm from finding an exploit or a hacker from planting malware on your system. “Always-on” means “always-on”. Nietzche didn't even know what a computer was, but his words still apply to the Internet, “If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” So how does one protect oneself in this environment? The problem gets even more confusing when you realize that technology is continually changing. New vulnerabilities are discovered every day, and things like viruses and spyware are evolving at an ever accelerated rate. Technology begets technology. This goes for the both the good and the bad... At the most basic level, there are four things you must do to ensure a secure and clean PC.
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Keep Updates current • As new exploits are found in different pieces of software, programmers create code that will “patch” holes in the code. The home website for the program or operating system (most likely a Microsoft product) is where you should go to keep all updates current. • To check your Microsoft products go to http://v4.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/en/default.asp and click “Scan for updates”. Use a Virus Checker and Keep the Definition Files current. • There are several Virus Checker softwares out there, but they all need to be updated regularly. A definition file will tell the Virus Checker what clues to look for when cleaning your hard drive, and since new viruses come out each day... • A free virus checker is available from the Anti-Virus Group at http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php Use a Spyware Cleaner and Keep the Definition Files current. • Spyware is a relatively new phenomenon. You can think of spyware as being somewhere between a cookie and a virus. Like Cookies, there are legitimate reasons for Spyware existing. Also like cookies, they can be used by bad people to do bad things. Spyware can be a major issue as it tends to use up bandwidth and processing resources. • Spyware cleaners may differ in what they look for on your PC. The industry is not as “standardized” as the anti-virus industry. Either of the

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following downloads will clean your system adequately, but running both of them will help ensure all spyware is removed. • http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/ • http://www.safer-networking.org/index.php?page=download • Be sure to keep all definition files current. Both of these downloads are free, but donating or registering will allow more functionality (like autoupdating and checking). If you use the free version, you must run the updates and scans manually. Use a Firewall. • A firewall is a kind of “checkpoint” on your network. All traffic that passes that checkpoint is inspected and verified. Any unauthorized traffic will be stopped. • A firewall can take two forms: • Hardware: The best type of firewall, a hardware firewall is a device that sits between your PC and the broadband connection. The terms 'router' or 'NAT' are commonly used. Most of these devices autoconfig, but be aware that any default settings (Admin password, for example) used can be discovered easily by a dedicated attacker. Some manufacturers' websites follow: • http://www.linksys.com/ • http://www.usr.com/home.asp • http://www.trendnet.com/us.htm • Software: The primary issue with a software firewall is that it actually sits on the device its trying to protect. Think of it as having no 'perimeter' or a caste without the moat. An extra point on the network that an attack could be stopped does not exist. Once the attacker can see your computer (something the hardware fire wouldn't allow) half the battle is done. • Nonetheless, some defense is better than no defense. Numerous options exist for software firewalls, but I recommend Zone Labs product “Zone Alarm”. MacAffee and Norton have their own firewalls as well, but Zone Ala (the simple version) is free.
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http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/catalog/products/sku_list_ za.jsp for Zone Alarm – be aware that they want you to buy the full version... and I recommend you do if you really want to be secure – with spamblockers and all sorts of filter settings... Purchasing a hardware solution might be a better use of your money if you already have most of your security in place. • A firewall is a powerful tool that could prevent your legitimate use of the internet if you aren't careful. Any terms or filenames that a firewall may throw at you can be easily searched for at http://www.google.com Combining the filename/term with the words “virus”, “exploit”, “spyware”, or “vulnerability” should allow you to quickly determine if your firewall is detecting a real threat or simply a new (but unknown) legitimate program. Some firewalls will have help files or tutorials built it that help explain these items further. • For more information on any of these subjects, try checking: • http://about.com/ • http://www.howstuffworks.com/ • http://whatis.techtarget.com/ These websites (and many others) will help you search unfamiliar terms and technology. Simply use their search engines to scour their database for the topic in question...


				
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Description: How To - Protect a PC on a Broadband Connection