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Security Guide

© 2002 Walt Howe
(Last revised, 10 February 2010)
Are you safe from crackers and hackers on your home or office system? If you use a dial-up connection, you probably are reasonably safe. If you use a full time network connected to the Internet or use a full time connection like cable modem or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), you may be quite vulnerable.. At any time, thousands of automated programs are running on the Internet just looking for vulnerable computer systems. As a result, your computer is probably being probed repeatedly during the day. In the day before I wrote this, I had probes blocked by my firewall software from Chile, two sites in China, a Korean elementary school (what are they teaching there, anyway?), Norway, California, and Washington state.

You can test your own system's security using the Shields UP web site. If it shows you that your system is vulnerable, consider reconfiguring your system to prevent intrusions (the Shields UP site will help) or installing good firewall software.

Another site to check your system security is Symantec's Security Check.

A firewall refers to the concept of a security interface or gateway between a closed system or network and the outside Internet that blocks or manages communications in and out of the system. The security may be provided by passwords, authentication techniques, software, and hardware. In particular, I recommend the free AVG Anti-Virus for protecting a personal Windows system or the Norton Internet Security package. Many ISPs provide a free security package these days. If you have a home network and a router, your router provides another type of firewall for you. Make sure you use its security features, including wireless encryption.

See our companion article on Privacy on the Internet. See what others can learn about you as you use the nets and what you can do about it.

Do you have any questions, comments, corrections or suggestions for improvement? Post a message in the Navigating the Net Message Base.