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What you need to know for online security

When you are connected to the Internet, you can give all kinds of secrets away to people who know where to look. If you are confident of your security, or want the fright of your life, go to Gibson Research Corporation and allow them to ‘Test your Shields’ by clicking on the links to ‘Shields Up’. The results are eye opening. All they do at this site is find information that anyone with the right tools could find out, directly from your computer. The problem is that these hacking tools are available on the internet, if you know where to look and what to look for.

Although this is worrying (if you’re not concerned, you haven’t understood), there is something you can do. Go to Zone Labs and scroll to the bottom of the page to download their excellent firewall software Zone Alarm. This is free for personal and non-profit use, but you can buy Zone Alarm Pro, or better still ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 2007 (PC) which is even more capable, for a small fee. Once installed, what it will do is protect the connections available from your computer over the internet, both in and out, through your modem or broadband link. Although we consider Zone Alarm to be the best, in the spirit of fairness McAfee and Symantec and others also sell firewall software.

For businesses there are a whole bunch of very powerful, very complex, and very expensive options, such as Symantec Raptor, and Microsoft ISA Server. There are also much cheaper but very competent Linux-based firewalls which can be run on older redundant computers. We cannot go into detail here, that’s a whole different article.

Paul Wood

Website design and maintenance

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