Online Security

Online security is becoming a bigger concern as the Internet increases in popularity and more hackers attempt to invade people's computers.

Internet security is a very real problem and there is no doubt that if you have done nothing to protect your computer you are in real danger of being hacked. We can't stress enough the importance of online security for Internet users.

The Source of the Problem

Aside from the real source of the problem - malicious acts of hackers - a big part of the problem is Internet users using PC's to access the Web with a version of Microsoft Windows installed as the operating system. New vulnerabilities in Windows are discovered regularly. While Microsoft continues to release new security patches the patches are created after a new hole has been discovered, and not everyone keeps as up to date with these releases as they should.

Windows has proven to be so vulnerable because the operating system was originally written with the idea that it would run on a stand-alone computer or possibly as part of a friendly, self-contained local area network. The Internet and related services are all things that have been added onto the original code.

As of 2004 Microsoft is supposedly working a new operating system that is being written from the ground up and has security as one of its top priorities. We will have to wait until it has been released and is installed on people's machines to see if they have successfully created a truly secure OS.

In the mean time you check Microsoft's Security Advisor Site.

Internet Security Solutions

Secure Operating Systems

One solution that people have adopted is alternative operating systems such as Linux, which runs on industry standard PC's, or the Apple Mac OS. These operating systems have fewer security problems than MS Windows because they are both based on Unix which was written from the outset with intention that it would run in large multi-user, networking environments. While these UNIX based OS's have fewer security problems than Windows, they are not hacker proof.

Software Protection Utilities

Another solution is to add software utilities such as 'Firewalls' and 'Intrusion Detectors'. Firewall software has the advantage of being able to protect your computer from both external invasion hacking and the internal transmission of private, personal data that may take place if your machine has become compromised by a trojan horse or spyware or become infected with a virus.

The XP version of Windows comes with a built-in firewall that does a good job of protecting the PC against inbound hack attempts, but it does nothing to protect the computer against outbound connections that may take place . You still need a third-party firewall for this.

Some of the better know third-party firewalls are from Symantec/Norton and McAfee. Online security software firewalls - latest versions can be found here.

Hardware Security Devices

The most common hardware Internet security devices are the little external firewall and NAT router/switch boxes. These devices provide the best possible protection from external hacking. They stand as drive-less, non-corruptible computer between your computer and the Internet. They have the added benefit of easily sharing a single Internet connection between several machines.

Even in homes with just a single computer but multiple users they make an excellent security investment because they are relatively inexpensive and none of the home computer users can unwittingly and unknowingly disable its protection as might be the case with a software only solution.

The one thing that these devices cannot do is protect your machine against outbound connections that originate from within your computer from a Trojan horse, spyware, or a virus.

Internet Security Recommendations

In our view the very best Internet security protection comes from combining an external hardware firewall/NAT router/switch with an additional software firewall running on every PC that has Internet access.

Download ZoneAlarm Pro easy-to-use firewall blocks hackers and other unknown threats. Stealth mode automatically makes your PC invisible to anyone on the Internet.

Internet Security Checking

Check the Internet Security of your computer for free. This page contains links to some excellent security checking software utilities and in depth explanations of Windows based PC security issues. It also contains the results of a security check run on a PC with a hardware router between it and the Internet.

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