The High Tech Office: Protection is available from
by Alan Zisman
The as yet unidentified hackers who attacked a number
web sites this week (as I write) were successful in knocking their
off the Internet for several hours. Their denial-of-service attacks,
did not interfere with the contents of those sites, and did not
private information stored on those computers.
Most large networks that are connected to the
Internet are safe
behind firewalls?a combination of hardware and software that limits
can come in from wide open Net outside. Most small businesses and home
offices, however, are wide open to unauthorized outsiders.
This is not a big deal if you connect by a dial-up
typically not on for very long, and in most cases, each time you
you?re given a different Internet Protocol address by your service
you a transient, moving target not worth a hacker?s time.
But more and more of us are connecting via cable or
services. That means your computer is always on the Internet even when
you?re not actually using a browser or e-mail program. And with an
address that stays the same for a month or more at a time, you can be
by outsiders randomly probing for unprotected computers.
You can check your computers? vulnerabilities by
logging onto Gibsons
Research?s web site (http://grc.com) and clicking on the Shields Up
If you don?t like the results, you may want to think about installing a
I?m using Symantec?s new Norton Internet Security
2000?an $89 product
for Windows 95/98 systems that combines a firewall with a collection of
other functions?what the company calls a ?one-stop defense against
The box includes a copy of the company?s Norton
AntiVirus 2000, for
protection against viruses and other infections. Among other functions,
scans e-mail attachments when they are received, and checks Microsoft
documents as they are opened.
NIS 2000 can also be set to speed up your web access,
blocking out annoying
banner ads, pop-up windows, and similar screen clutter?the Web
of zapping TV commercials from a recorded videotape. As well, home
may appreciate the ability to control children?s Internet
not just visits to inappropriate web sites, but also entire categories
of applications?you can turn off Chat, for example, when your kids are
online. Or block your kids from sending specific categories of
or Visa numbers, for example.
The core of the program, though is its firewall?which
lets you use your
computer on the Internet, while closing it off to outside access. In
it can be set to prevent Web servers from accessing information stored
on your hard drive, even while you are visiting their Web pages.
With the default installation, however, not all
security features are
turned on. It definitely pays to go through the brief manual, and think
about what options you?ll need. As well, it will take some time to set
up different settings for different users?children, for example. And
program doesn?t automatically shift settings when someone new sits down
at the computer?not even if they log into Windows as a different
may want to leave it running with your desired maximum settings, and
manually log onto it for a more relaxed set-up as desired.
With some tweaking, the program works well?with it in
place, the Shields
Up tests were unable to get past the firewall on my computer. And 15
Joey complains that it blocks some places on the Web he wanted to get
good sign, as far as I?m concerned.
Like computer viruses, Internet security is
ever-changing. Steve Gibson
is constantly updating his Shields Up test to reflect new and improved
ways of penetrating our computers. NIS 2000 tried to keep you protected
from new perils?its Live Update feature can automatically connect you
Symantec?s server every week or so, making sure that your antivirus,
Security, and blocked Websites lists are up to date.
You can get all these functions separately, from a
variety of sources.
(And if you?re running Windows NT/2000 or a Mac, you?ll have to look
in any event). Vancouver-based Net Nanny, for example, offers
over Web access. And the free Zone Alarm firewall (www.zonelabs.com) is
well- regarded?and will work on Windows NT/2000 systems as well as Win
95/98. Mac users may want to try out the $90 shareware Doorstop