RE: DSL question

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2005 14:00:19 -0400

I think you're best thing would be to find the manuals or the help files
for the software you do have and read them from start to finish.
Then, if you still have time, go google for a web site article that
talks about security for home computers.
You have perhaps 3 basic worries:
1.  viruses, which you're familiar with.  You can't catch a virus unless
you execute a program that someone gives you in some way, and if you've
got antivirus software with regular updates to its files of viruses, it
should stop it from executing.
2.  spyware.  This is much like a virus; you can't catch it unless you
execute a program someone gives you.  Unlike a virus, it doesn't
necessarily try to do damage to your pc; it tries to extract some
information from your pc, and send it back to the creator.  This is
where a software firewall can help, but not a hardware firewall.
What the spyware does is attempt to open a connection over the internet
to deliver its information.  A software firewall on your pc can block
this, and ask you if it's ok to let program XXX connect to the internet.
This is where it gets complicated, because even for knowledgeable folks,
it's hard to know how to answer.  Your best course is to always answer
"no", but don't check the checkbox that says "never ask me again".
That's because you'll eventually learn that you sometimes need to answer
"yes".  For instance, when the windows automatic update program needs to
check for updates, you need to let it do so.  You'll eventually learn
what program it is, and when it runs, and you'll eventually say "yes"
and "don't ask me again".
This kind of constant questioning is bothersome, and frustrating,
because you often don't know how to answer.  You could go out on the
internet and research each program name each time it asks you.
By doing this, you could possibly prevent some spyware from getting your
info on to the internet.  I admit, it could be a lot of effort, for a
rather small bit of extra security, especially if you run anti-spyware
software checks every day.
3.  You have to worry slightly about people from the outside making
their way on to your pc; either to steal information, or just to do
malicious harm, or to "hijack" your pc as part of some larger internet
hacking project.  This is where either a hardware or a software firewall
will help prevent them from making contact with your pc.  Even the free
XP SP2 firewall is good for this kind of protection.
Go out and find some web tutorials that cover all this better.  At home
I have both a hardware and software firewall, I have both anti-virus and
anti-spyware software running constantly, and I have made changes to
some default xp settings to make my pc more secure.
In order to do some things that I want (such as use a BitTorrent
client), I've had to make security compromises; so, I make backups of my
system, and rotate them, so if I had to I could fall back to a backup if
I got hurt by something.  If I had my credit card number stolen by some
spyware I'd be in trouble, so I'm going to start using special one-use
only credit card numbers offered by my credit card company.
I have a wireless router, so I have to do special security for that as
well.  It's a never-ending battle, and you can't just ask someone for a
quick bit of info to make it all safe; I'm afraid you have to spend some
time educating yourself.

Chip Orange
Database Administrator
Florida Public Service Commission

(850) 413-6314

 (Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect those of the Florida Public Service Commission.)



        From: jfw-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:jfw-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Judith Bron
        Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 11:44 AM
        To: jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Subject: Re: DSL question
        Chip, I have Norton corporate edition and software spyware.  Is
that enough or should I download a software firewall when I get DSL?
Are there instructions that would help me operate this software so that
I don't disable any of the things I already have running?  Thanks,

                ----- Original Message ----- 
                From: Chip Orange <mailto:Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  
                To: jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
                Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 11:36 AM
                Subject: RE: DSL question

                It's not an either or type of decision; they do
different jobs for the most part.
                A hardware firewall usually takes no effort to setup,
but does the least to protect your pc.  A software firewall catches many
more potential problems than a hardware firewall, but takes a lot of
effort to setup and understand.  It's theoretically possible it could be
disabled, but I've never seen a report of it actually happening to
                The free firewall that comes with XP SP2 is kind of
strange in that it is a software firewall that acts like a hardware
firewall (that is, rather poorly, but is little trouble to operate).
The *real* software firewalls really can be a *lot* of trouble to
operate and understand; it's very easy to set them up incorrectly so
that they allow spyware to communicate, or you stop your valid software
from performing some automatic function such as self-updating.
                MS should have put more effort into solving this issue,
and I guess they are with their beta version of their anti-spyware tool.
This will eventually catch spyware without making folks deal with the
complexities of a software firewall.

                Chip Orange
                Database Administrator
                Florida Public Service Commission
                (850) 413-6314
                 (Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Florida Public Service



                        From: jfw-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jfw-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of chevelle
                        Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 10:24 PM
                        To: jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
                        Subject: Re: DSL question
                        Hi, I would say if you are going to dsl or
cable, it is definitely a good idea to have a firewall. YOu can still
with the Norton firewall that you have or go with a hardware firewall
built into a router. I would suggest going with a hardware firewall. For
one thing today's spyware, and other bad programs are able and do
disable a software firewall. They can't disable a hardware firewall.
People will probably say you should have both, but it is up to you. I am
only using a hardware firewall. Also since I've gone to a hardware
firewall I don't have as many hastles as I used to.

                                ----- Original Message ----- 
                                From: Judith Bron
                                To: jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
                                Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 3:00 PM
                                Subject: DSL question

                                Hi Friends,
                                We are looking into getting DSL.  Here
are my questions:
                                1.  How do I notify everyone in muy
address book that my email address has changed?
                                2.  Do I need a firewall or any other
software with DSL?  I have Norton corporate edition, windows 98 and Jaws
5.1.  Thanks, Judith

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