Virus, Hacking, Spy-ware and Spam protection, privacy in a public place
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I don't have access to a Mac or any other non-Windows PCs, so this mostly pertains to the Windows PC computers. I also only use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express so send me any information you have about other products that you think should be posted here.
A Virus is code that enters you computer and most of the times will cause damage. The typical way it enters your computer is from email. It used to be that it came in from floppy disks or shared programs. For the most part, you have to open an attached file to activate the virus. There are however a few that can infect your computer by just opening the email itself. For this reason, you should make sure you have applied all of the security patches Microsoft has made. You can do this from the "Windows Update" option on the IE "Tools" menu option or visit http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/virus.asp to check on specific virus patches provided by Microsoft. You can protect yourself from most viruses at two different levels. On a system level and on an email level. You can protect yourself from these attacks with Anti-Virus software. Make sure that the Anti-Virus software you select protect against virus attacks on both of these levels. Make sure you update the virus signature files frequently.
There are free Anti-Virus software package called InoculateIT Personal Edition by Computer Associates and can be found at http://www.antivirus.cai.com or AVG by Grisoft Inc. can be found at http://www.grisoft.com/html/us_index.cfm. A free online virus scanner called HouseCall can be found at http://housecall.antivirus.com. Please note that HouseCall does not check your email. You can try either MacAfee at http://www.mcafee.com/anti-virus or Symantec at http://www.symantec.com/nav for commercial Anti-Virus packages. If anyone knows of a good free or other commercial package, I will be glade to post it here.
Many hackers are just curious, but some are intent on reeking havoc on your computer and take great pleasure in doing it. The Internet is a very public place and everyone connected to it is an easy target for hackers. There is not just a front and back door for hackers to gain access to your computer by, there are thousands of access points. You can protect yourself from hackers with a Firewall. Make sure the Firewall you select protects against incoming and outgoing access. It may not be obvious at this point why outgoing access needs to be controlled, but it will become clear in the next paragraph about Spy-Ware.
A good free Firewall called ZoneAlarm by ZoneLabs can be found at http://www.zonelabs.com. ZoneAlarm has an option called 'MailSafe' that will protect you against email that contains executable attachments. This option alone is a good reason to use ZoneAlarm. They also have a commercial product called ZoneAlarm Pro. There is also a free firewall called Tiny Personal Firewall by Tiny Software Inc. and can be found at http://www.tinysoftware.com If anyone knows of a good free and/or commercial Firewall, I will be glade to post it here.
Spy-Ware is the newest form of privacy invasion on the internet. This is a program that gets installed on your computer and sends information found on your computer back to it's owners via your internet connection. Some track the websites you visit and even items you purchase and send this information back to it's owners. These programs are un-knowingly installed while you are installing a seemingly legitimate application. Most of these are obtained as Free-ware but some commercial software packages contain Spy-ware. Some are installed via add banners on a web page. For the most part, you are not informed of this devious practice. There is no common name for the protection software available, so I will call it Anti Spy-ware. I also only know of one package available that qualifies as Anti Spy-ware.
A good and the only I know of free Anti Spy-ware package call Ad-aware by Lavasoft can be found at http://www.lavasoft.nu/. They also have a commercial product called Add-aware Plus. If anyone knows of a good free and/or commercial Anti Spy-ware package, I will be glade to post it here.
Spam is unsolicited email. There is no way to completely prevent SPAM for being delivered. You can use filters on your email reader to hide most of them from your eyes, but you still have to read some of it to identify if it is in fact a SPAM or not. There is a web site called SpamCop at http://www.SpamCop.net that has a free and a commercial Web based product that allows you to report to the providers of these Spammers. Most of these reports result in the Spammers resources being shut down. A good resource for Spam information is SpamHunter's Resource at http://www.spamblocked.com/strads/spam/. If anyone knows of a good free and/or commercial Anti-Spam package, I will be glade to post it here.
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If you would like a more detailed explanation of most of the subjects covered here, visit Gibson Research Corporation at http://grc.com/
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