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April 2006 Archives

April 3, 2006

Why Security Part 1

Some website owners are wondering why they need security. These may be the same ones who do not have a virus scanner, spyware detection software on their personal computers they use to connect to the web. They also may be ones who do not have a firewall on their computer.

To tell you the truth, I don't have a virus scanner running on my computer at all times. Last year I bought the McAfee virus software. I have been using Zone Alarm Firewall for years. The two do not get along very well so I stopped McAfee from starting up when I booted up the computer. Since I am very careful, and I was only fooled twice over two years ago, I can get away without virus software running.

Last month I did start it up and got the updates for McAfee when there was supposd to be that really bad virus.

But most users should not do what I did. (Do what I say, not as I do!)

But not all people are as computer literate as I am. Also, most of the early email virii only caused big problems if you were using MS Outlook. I use Netscape Communicator, and have been for over 7 years. I am running the current version, Netscape 8.1.

The big question is:

What security software out there is the best? That is a hard question, and the answer can vary from version to version, and depends on how adaptable the user is to new programs. I don't have a real answer. All I can do is tell you what I am using.

Current Computers:
Workstation - Windows 2000
Laptop - Windows 98 (hey the laptop was free!)

Virus Software Recommendation:
Don't use McAfee if you're using Zone Alarm. In July, when my current contract with McAfee is finished, I will be trying out the Zone Alarm suite.
Note: On the laptop it seems to run ok.

Firewall:I'm using Zone Alarm Pro on my home workstation, and the free version of Zone Alarm on my laptop.

Spyware Detection:
Spybot Search & Destroy on the workstation. It causes the laptop to crash on startup, so I am not running it there. I also have MS AntiSpyware. Except for the 7 items it found when it first ran months ago, it hasn't found a thing. But it doesn't seem to be causing any real slowness of my computer, so I have left it on the workstation.

Adware detection
Ad-Aware SE on the workstation. I run it whenever I remember that it doesn't have an automatic scan.

Startup Alerts
This alerts the user when software inserts a program into the system startup. I have three popup messages when this happens. One from Zone Alarm. One from Spybot S&D. And a third from Win Patrol.

Special Folder Alerts
I don't have a technical name for this category, but software installs some files in either the Root folder, Windows folder or Windows System folder. Most of these are valid programs, but it is nice to know when this happens. I use Boot Alert to tell me when this happens. It runs on startup and if there are any differences (files now missing or new files) it will alert the user.

I have multiple programs watching these for me. Netscape and Firefox have their own pop-up stoppers, which I use. One problem with using Netscape and Firefox together, is that they're based on the same program, Mozilla. Therefore each thinks the other is a popup! And I use Pop-up Stopper.

Now the question is where do you get these programs!
MS AntiSpyware (or Defender)
Spybot S&D
Zone Alarm

All of these except McAfee have free versions. If you find any of the products useful, you may want to get paid versions.

April 19, 2006

Technospeak (Part 1)

Someone who read my last entry on Security mentioned that she didn't understand what I was talking about. I do need to know when I'm speaking in Technospeak. Unfortunately there isn't a Babel Fish translation for Technospeak. And I have a tendency to speak it.

Let me go back and give a few definitions.

Virus - something bad.

Just because you're running Linux or OS/X or even an earlier Mac, doesn't mean you can't get one on your computer. New virii are being created every day.

Virus Scanner or Antivirus Software - a program which runs on your computer and watches every file, program and email that is processed on your computer.

As I mentioned in my last post I installed McAffee on my computer but it and another program slowed down my computer so much, that I removed it. If one came with your computer you should use it. And make sure you pay for the subscription so that you are protected in to the new virii that are coming out every day.

Firewall -

Hmmmm. No definition in my mind. Just a good thing to have. I had a firewall first on my computer since the McAffee CD I had bought in 1998 or so didn't work in my old CD drive and never got around to installing it. This can help prevent virii from spreading (another story).

A firewall watches every program just like the virus scanner, but it makes sure the program doesn't do something like use your modem to make expensive phone calls, or even contact a webpage when you're not expecting it. These are some of the bad things that bad programs can do to your computer.

Spyware - A program that is watching websites you go to, steals passwords and other spying on what you're doing on your computer

This is the most dangerous type of program. The ones that collect passwords will send those passwords and credit cards to somewhere else so that they can access your bank accounts, use your credit card to buy expensive stuff, or in general steal your identity.

And it isn't just a program. Some websites you go to put cookies on your computer so that other websites can read them and know what sites you tend to go to so that they can show you ads that you might be more likely to click on. This may sound like a good thing, but do you really want people knowing everything you buy?

(Update: I've added links to some better definitions for some of the definitions I gave here.)

April 26, 2006

What is ethical?

A blog I read on a daily basis (whether or not there is a new post) is one by Security Monkey. I have learned a lot about security.

Today he hit the jackpot with comments on "Geeks Take Down Dirty C-Level Executives"

The question is whether or not the Geeks were ethical. The C-Level Executives certainly were not. My guess is that if they weren't being unethical they were way over in that grey area. They certainly didn't expect all the stuff that got sent on the corporate email.

Yes, email has to be considered public. But how public is it? Also, there are many cases of email being sent to the wrong person.

One thing to remember too, is that email can be forwarded far and wide by recipients. And those on the forwarded list can forward it further and wider.

Many commenters to Security Monkey believe this entry is an urban legend. But since I have have read his blog from start to this last entry, I fully believe him. He has always changed names and some minor details so that the people and companies involved cannot be recognized.

What do you think about the ethics of the geeks?

About April 2006

This page contains all entries posted to WebWise Wardens in April 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2006 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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