Internet Security for the Home User
by Alan Zisman
(c) 2000. First
published in Toronto Computes,
Norton Internet Security 2000
for Windows 95/98 computers with Pentium or better
MB RAM, 60 MB drive space
It can be a wild and nasty world out there.
And in opening up our homes to the world, via the
Internet, we open
ourselves to letting the bad in with the good. Sex and gambling, as
to our kids as to us. Web sites that collect personal information
our knowledge or permission. Viruses. Malicious programs like Back
or NetBus, that allow others to take control of our computers. An
flood of advertising.
Corporations limit access from the outside with
firewalls, but if you?re
a home user, when you?re connected to the Net it?s open season on your
computer. And if you?ve signed up for high speed Net access, whether
cable or ADSL, you?ve unknowingly compounded our problems, as our
are connected to the Net all the time, whether you?re actively online
Every potential problem, of course, provides an
opportunity for a fix.
And there are plenty?parental control programs like Net Nanny or Cyber
Patrol. Ad busters like the free WebWasher. Cookie managers. Antivirus
programs. Programs like Black Ice to watch for hackers probing for
Internet Protocol addresses.
Utilities giant Symantec has put them all together as
Security 2000. The $89 package includes all those capabilities, along
a copy of the $60 Norton AntiVirus. It offers users the power to
undesired use of the Internet?both by children at home, by hackers
to get in, and from websites trying to collect information.
When you install the program, it sets up a default
account and a password
protected administrator account? as administrator, you can make changes
to the settings and create additional accounts?unless logged in as
restrictions apply?and users can?t disable the program, turn it off, or
change the restrictions.
Unfortunately, it cannot automatically be set for
whomever is logged
into Windows?if you want specific restrictions to apply when your
are using the computer, you need to open NIS and manually log them in.
Users may also be less than happy with the default settings?out of the
box, for example, the default security settings are to allow
As a result, it would be a mistake to simply install it and assume your
system is protected?be prepared to spend time reading the manual,
accounts, and tweaking the settings.
In fact, security settings may seem like a no-win for
potentially dangerous Java and ActiveX applets, the choices are to
everything, block all?which can make many harmless pages refuse to
or ask for permission every time?at best an annoyance. Behind the
though the program?s personal firewall does a good job of protecting
computer from hacker attacks like Denial of Service and flood attacks.
Privacy settings allow users to block sending specific
pieces of information?for
example, it can be set up so that unless you?re specifically logged in,
it will block sending your credit card number?a handy feature in some
I?m sure! As with the security settings, cookies and other confidential
information can be allowed, forbidden, or ask for permission each time.
A Browser Privacy option can keep your browser from revealing your
address and last site visited when queried.
Parental control settings let parents block children?s
access to individual
sites, or to categories of sites (sex, violence, racism, gambling,
course, the categories are only useful if the program?s built-in
is kept up to date. Like Norton AntiVirus, the program automatically
to update itself regularly, and includes a one-year subscription to
Live Update feature.
As well, parents can limit children?s access to entire
web applications. Remove the checkmark beside Chat or Instant Messaging
to block access to those sorts of programs.
Blocking ads not only removes many irritating ad
windows and banners,
but it speeds up browsing as well, as less time is spent downloading a
page. Some ads get through anyway, but a neat feature is the program?s
Trashcan?Internet Explorer users can drag an ad to the NIS trash and it
will never appear again. (Netscape users have to copy and paste the ad
into the trash).
The program automatically adds Norton Antivirus, which
into the NIS interface. As well, if you have a copy of Norton
3 installed, NIS will add itself as an option to that program?s
If you?re prepared to do some tweaking, Norton
Internet Security can
provide an extra level of control and security for a home or small
computer connected to the Internet. I?d especially recommend it to
to ?always on? services like cable or ADSL connections.