Privacy and SecurityHACKERS is the name incorrectly given to people (mainly by journalists and writers) who gain access to information stored on computers that are connected to the internet.
Hackers, crackers & firewalls
In actual fact a Hacker is a highly trained programmer who solves problems. They resent the term being used by people who break into computers. Hackers call these people crackers. It is also the term we shall use.
Contrary to popular belief Crackers are not super intelligent 'computer whiz kids', they use relatively simple procedures and software, the vast majority of them do it for 'fun', because they can do it, rather than malicious reasons.
Access is gained through open ports on vulnerable or unprotected computer. Ports can be probed first, by software to assess the computers level of security. Successful probes are followed by an attack. Those with more malicious intent often use a Trojan or hacking tool to open specific ports first.
Once someone has access into your computer, they can just sit and watch everything you do, but the more malicious ones can view, add or remove programmes or files and use your pc to distribute viruses, trojans or spam.
YOU WILL NOT EVEN KNOW THEY ARE THERE Protection comes in the form of firewall, some are bundled with anti virus software but generally they are a separate programme. This software will monitor your computers access ports and examine the packets of data that pass into and out of your computer, it will automatically block known threats and alert if any person or programme attempts to access or connect out. These could be legitimate or malicious, most firewalls offer some kind of assistance in distinguishing between the two.
If your firewall asks you for permission to allow a process in your computer to access the internet but is unable to offer any information, you can find out what the programme is and does by typing its name into a search engine, or use a programme like Wintask5. For a direct download of a Free trial version Click here.
Until you set all your permissions, the alerts can be a little annoying. but you will be surprised how often either a programme in your computer tries to call out and how many times someone tries to get in.
Windows XP comes with a built in firewall, but it only monitors incoming traffic, so its use is not recommended. You should only have one firewall running, so download a reputable bi-directional Firewall and disable the Windows firewall. Start > Control panel > Security Centre. Select Windows firewall and Off
Here is a list of reputable bi-directional firewalls
||Award winning protection
||Detect and prevent hackers and port scans
||Firewall available as either 'stand alone application' or included in its Security suite.
||Preventing privacy violations
|The shield 2004
||Firewall and anti virus combined
||A popular and trusted firewall
|Please note : where a price is quoted from a U.S. based company, It is subject to conversion rates at the time of ordering
Test your firewall with Leaktest, a free downloadable test to make sure your firewall is doing what it should be.
You can also run several online tests on your ports, to check the level of security you currently have from Shield up.
Port Explorer, allows you to see all open ports and what process owns them, this is called port to process mapping, which when combined with its built in trojan detection utility it is impossible for any trojan that slips through your firewall to operate undetected. It also includes a packet sniffer, so you can actually see what information is being sent from your computer, . This is not freeware, but there is a free 30 day evaluation period.
It is also important to keep good anti-trojan software fully updated. The next page looks at the threat from trojans.
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