Computer Security: all about firewalls, anti virus software and hard drive encryption
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All the attempts to protect your online privacy can have
no effect in case you ignore your local PC security. Even you are using
anonymizing service to hide your IP address and to encrypt your entire
Internet traffic, your computer may be vulnerable to network attacks,
viruses, spyware applications, and data loss because of insufficient access
protection. Viruses can be easily created using various “virus constructors”
and sent to you by email as an attachment or uploaded exploiting your
computer network vulnerabilities. As an example of specially created spying
viruses (trojan viruses) we can refer to infamous "Magic Lantern",
an FBI program that can monitor keystrokes.
1. Personal firewall.
A firewall acts as filter with custom defined rules to cut off undesired
or suspicious traffic. It is a wall actually repelling the attacks from
the outside (from the Internet). Also, good firewall software should allow
you to configure it so that only “authorized” applications could communicate
over the Internet. This will prevent any undesirable connection attempt
from inside of your PC, e.g. spyware or a trojan virus may try sending
data collected from your hard drive.
2. Antiviral software
Internet is highly contagious environment. It is a general truth nowadays
when so many have suffered from virus attack. Antiviral software is a
“must” on any Internet connected computer. It should be mentioned that
simply buying any antiviral software is not a good idea. Most antiviral
software use pattern matching algorithms and heuristics analysis, which
may not be effective when it comes to fighting the viruses written by
professionals ("Magic Lantern" trojan, for example). In addition
to the above methods good antiviral software should perform a real-time
audit of active applications and file systems, e.g. monitoring file size
changes, issuing warnings about new executables, etc. This approach can
guarantee that customer will be warned about any suspicious changes in
the system. Even unknown virus or spyware will be detected and deleted.
3. Hard drive data protection.
The best solution is to use the software, which allows encrypting all the hard drive, including the operating system area, not only selected folders. This would guarantee that only the PC owner could access all the data on a PC. Unfortunately only few hard drive encryption tools will satisfy these criteria. Please avoid utilities “hiding” your folders. Using these tools you can hide something from your kids only (and not in all cases). The only way to protect data is to encrypt it, not to hide.
Good hard drive encryption utility should solve several problems for your privacy.
One more point: your data will be safe as your password is safe. Do not ever share your hard drive passwords.
4. "spyware removal" tools.
Sometimes people are using so-called "spyware removal" tools, e.g. software detecting spyware. Those tools deal with unwanted adware and spyware on your computer. The main source of spyware are websites that make use bugs in users' browsers to install code on your computer allowing to research your browsing habits, etc. Also, "spyware removal" tools can detect and destroy spyware designed to obtain account details for online payment systems like e-gold, PayPal and many others. In case you use online payment systems it is quite important to check your PC with "spyware removal" tool before logging in. In most cases using personal firewall and antiviral software cannot block such spyware. Most of "spyware removal" tools have built-in database of known spyware and tools to remove it, and it is important to keep the database up to date. It should be noted, that only disabling java and ActiveX can guarantee your browser safety and prevent your PC from infecting through the web browser. Not all custom developed spyware (especially those targeted to a separate group of Internet users, e.g. the users of a certain online resource, payment system, etc.) can be detected by "spyware removal" tools. Such spyware will simply not be listed in the tool database.
To summarize all the above, we would recommend installing on your computer the following tools: personal firewall, antiviral software, spyware detection utility, and hard drive encryption utility. Having all this tools will improve your computer security and make it almost impossible to break in.
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