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Firewalls, etc.


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I'm seriously thinking of making the leap to DSL, but I'm nervous about having my computer "open" on-line, all of the time. I'm sure most of you noted that post a few days ago by the gentlemen who talked about how much fun it was to browse other peoples' computers via DSL, looking at credit card numbers, etc.

Is there any really tough protection available in a firewall or something like that, or is it a waste of time and money? Yeah, I know if a hacker is skilled and has time you can't stop him, but what about just being as "hard" a target as possible? Is it worthwhile to try?

Brian G.

Dial-Up Dinosaur [:-indifferent]

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If you are running XP w/ the firewall, you are reasonably protected against garden variety hackers. Installing a network w/ a router also provides another layer.

I never turn my computer off; never had a problem w/ hackers.

For as much time as you appear to be online, I can't believe you don't have high speed something; DSL, cable, whatever. Get hooked up, man! Whenever I find myself w/ a dial up requirement, I don't even try. It's like having 2 flat tires on the expressway; call the tow truck, I give up.

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Originally posted by kurt

For as much time as you appear to be online, I can't believe you don't have high speed something; DSL, cable, whatever. Get hooked up, man!

Well, you know, if you've never eaten steak you don't miss it when you eat a hamburger. I'm gonna get it though. I'm downloading more and more, and man does that take forever with dial-up. All part of an overhaul of my tech equipment and abilities while things are good and the money is there.

Does anyone have a specific firewall product they know of that stands out from the crowd, or are they all pretty comparable?

Brian G.

Gittin' Jiggy With the 'Puter Stuff

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I'm no computor expert, but I have a cable modem and my wife and I have separate computers hooked up through a router. I don't use a firewall. I do use Norton anti-virus.

I was told that a router makes it a little more difficult for a hacker to find you in the first place. I shut down the computer when not in use, and I can't see how anyone can get into your computer if it's not powered up, but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm not aware of any problems here.[:-dopey]

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Originally posted by hausdok

Yes,

You are connected, but there is still a modem. If you don't open your browser and click on an address, nobody can access you. For instance, when I'm looking at my desktop my cable is on, but nobody can get into my database. When I open a browser and am not in offline mode it is possible if I don't have a firewall in place.

At least, that's my understanding of it. (Of course, being the world's premier compuidiot, I could be wrong.......AGAIN.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Wrong [:-dev3]

Captain

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I have a confession, actually two.

I didn't have DSL until about three weeks ago. I'm not sure how I survived in this world without it. I understand from Sprint that I have the slowest type of DSL. It's so much more freakin' faster than dial up it's headspinning! [:-hspin]

My other confession is that sometimes on the weekend I get bored listening to all the Fix-it-upper, DIY radio shows and turn on Kim Komando's Techie Show. It's amazes me someone that good lookin can be so darn smart. She recommends Zone Alarm for a firewall. Right after getting DSL, I bought, downloaded and installed it. Pretty neat. You can find Zone Alarm at http://www.zonealarm.com I also use Nortons anti virus software and have auto update.

Donald

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Originally posted by Donald Lawson

My other confession is that sometimes on the weekend I get bored listening to all the Fix-it-upper, DIY radio shows and turn on Kim Komando's Techie Show. It's amazes me someone that good lookin can be so darn smart.

Never heard of her. You got a good photo to post? Maybe I'd recognize her then. [:D]

Brian G.

Always Interested in Meeting New People [:-eyebrows]

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Donald my brother,

You are the man! That website is loaded with info for computer dummies like me. I emailed several "Daily Tips" to myself about firewalls, settings, security, etc. All 1 page, very readable stuff with specific instructions about what to click and what to change. The only downside I saw is that the stuff isn't print-ready.

I subscibed to the "Daily Tip" and the weekly newsletter. Hey Norm, you gotta try this site.

Mike, you should put that link in the "Resources" section under computers.

She is a lovely woman too. Looks just like Ellen! [-crzwom]

Brian G.

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If you are like most of us and use Internet Exploder,[:-timebm] with a broadband connection (like a cable modem or DSL modem)(not too many ISDNs anymore)the only time you are connected to the internet is when you click on the little blue "e" in the toolbar area. It seem like you are always connected because it's so fast. IP addresses are like your street and house # for your computer, a way of locating where you are on the internet.(not physical) There are 2 types of IP addresses, Static and Dynamic. If yours is static then your IP address doesn't change, like a WWW.Whatever address.

If you have a dynamic IP address then its like your house changing street names and numbers each time a new address is leased.(it's a timed thing, usually many days)

DSL and cable both work the same way.

Don't tell anyone, but,....... Cable modems are about 10 times faster than DSL. SSHHHHHH.

If you have multiple computers on a home network with a router, more likely than not, it also is on a dynamic IP, subleased from your home router.(this is where that double layer of protection comes in)If you also have a software firewall like, Black Ice, Norton or Zone Labs then 99.9% of hackers won't even know your on the internet even when you are! However, you may have MANY other issues stemming from their use. (I don't use em) By the way 99.9% of hackers don't care about you they have bigger fish to fry. Not much glory in Joe average being hacked.

I think you get the idea (Brian), Don't walk away from your computer and leave it logged on to the internet all day, then the odds are in your favor that nothing will ever happen to you. Turn it off if it makes you feel better, but if your not logged on and you use antivirus and anti Trojan software with current updates then its like unpluging your phone.... it won't even ring if someone calls.

Ron

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Originally posted by Renron

DSL and cable both work the same way.

Don't tell anyone, but,....... Cable modems are about 10 times faster than DSL. SSHHHHHH.

I knew they were faster, but not how much. It's just a personal thing, but I would rather ingest red-hot shards of broken glass than pay the cable company one penney more than I do now. I plan to terminate that in the next few months as well in favor of satellite.

I'm going DSL, no question, I'm just looking before I leap. Thanks.

Brian G.

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Brian,

I have cable HS access and Direct TV satellite. I almost went all satellite, but I had the cable already in the house and I would have needed to buy the special satellite dish for HS uplink. DSL does slow down depending on how far you are from the switching station and as more get online. Cable also slows down they say as more get on line. From what I have seen satellite is the way to go, if you don't mind paying the extra cost of it.

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Brian,

That speed comparison was between DSL and Cable not dial up.

My cable modem connection is well over 200 times faster than dial up.[:D]

DSL is also a bit more "twitchy & finicky" than cable.

I'm happy to answer any questions you have on this subject. I took the CCNA class, (Cisco Certified Network Associate)that was over 1 1/2 year long for fun, so I would understand the "net".

Just a Geek at heart.

Ron

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There is a really quick and easy way to determine how "guarded" your system is.

Before I get into that I would like to mention a couple of things about hacking. Folks here have mentioned that they have never had a problem with a hacker. How would you know? If someone is going to use your machine to spoof an ip address or to use other system resources they should be able to do it covertly. You would never even know they were there.

Broadband is ALWAYS on, regardless of the status of your web browser. If your machine is on it is open to the internet, not only the World Wide Web. WWW only uses a small handful of ports, Microsoft machines have thousands of ports.

The XP firewall is limited and always a target of hackers. The more popular a product is the more likely someone has found a hole in it. That is one of the reasons you don't hear about much hacking on MACs or Linux machines. There are just not that many machines out there, therefore the motivation to hack them is limited.

All this being said it should be remembered, hardware firewalls are ALWAYS better than software firewalls. An inexpensive router, configured correctly, is your best bet. Linksys seems to provide the most user friendly interface for configuring a safe environment. Additionally, now that linksys is a subsidary of Cisco, the router and switch king, the routers are becoming better with each passing release.

The use of a software firewall, like zonealarm, is possible with a hardware firewall but it may actually be overkill.

Basic security tactics are always recommended regardless of your firewall. If you are using XP, which is the best version of Windows for using broadband, you must be certain that you have downloaded and installed all updates.

Now to answer that burning question "is my system secure" all one needs do is go to www.grc.com and run the Shields Up application. This application will tell you which ports are accessible on your machine and will give you tips on how to configure a more secure connection.

So, get broadband, it is a whole different world. Take two hours out of a week and surf up some security sites and check your connection. You will be as safe as possible in a very short period of time.

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I should have been clearer in stating that: "the only time you are connected to the internet is when you click on the little blue "e" in the toolbar area. It seem like you are always connected because it's so fast."

By "connected" I meant that your IP was being broadcast to the internet, if your computer is behind a router that is configured correctly for all intents and purposes it is invisible to the net. (BLACK HOLE)

Check out this site:

http://www.dslreports.com/scan

Here is my scanned report:

Your Results for this scan

Conclusion: Healthy Setup! We could detect no interesting responses from any of the commonly probed TCP and UDP ports. It would be difficult for an attacker to know where to start without further information.

TCP ALL : FILTERED No response packet was received.

UDP ALL : FILTERED No response packet was received.

I do not have any special software only a NAT router between my home network and the internet. I do not use Zone Alarm. After working as a computer Tech. for over 2 years on JOE AVERAGE's computer I found most HOME networking problems stemmed from using a personal firewall. Yes, I too think it is over kill.

The ROUTER is always connected to the internet, and if your computer is turned on then it's connected to the router. UNLESS you have set up the router to provide STATIC IPs (usualy not the default)your computer is virtualy invisible to anyone on the net who may be looking for open ports. There is only ONE sure way to be 100% protected from hackers, and thats to never plug your computer into the net. Dial up, DSL, ISDN, Cable or Satelite. Barring that, the most secure way is with a NAT (Network Address Translation)router, software firewalls (may cause problems with LAN configurations) and current operating systems and security updates.

CW stated; " Folks here have mentioned that they have never had a problem with a hacker. How would you know?"

There are many utilities available for download that monitor and log the network's activity, some even alert you to ongoing and past activity. Being current with anti-virus and anti-spyware software is always recommended. Ad-aware does a good job of finding spyware and is a free download at:

http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/

The Bottom line is if someone wants in, they'll get in.

I'm more worried about the waiter at the local restauraunt stealing my Visa # than a hacker trying to look at my files. (just my take on it)

By the by, I never use auto complete when filling out profiles for internet purchases and never save my Credit Card # on my computer.

Ron

How techincal do we want to get?

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Future Geek,

A 10/100 Linksys 8 port router is about $65 and a wireless router is about $70 at Best Buy . I have an older Linksys and it has never causes me any trouble. Works with both DSL and Cable modems.

Both will require a NIC, (network interface card)some motherboards come with NICs built in, just look in the back and see it there is a socket that looks like a large telephone jack. If you want to use a laptop around your home in the future, go wireless now and save yourself some $$ later. If you have a friend who has experience in setting up a network or building computers invite him over for dinner and guilt him into helping you. You can do it on your own but it will be easier with help.

Back to Hackers, If for some reason you wanted to leave your computer on and were terrified of being hacked you could turn off the router and/or modem, keep the kids off the the net or whatever.

DON'T let your DSL provider hook you up via USB, bad bibble....tell them you want ethernet.

Pictures, still looking on the net for your requested photo... I kinda get side tracked while searching thou.[:I]

Ron

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Next ignorant question:

Zactly what is the ethernet?

The wireless router doesn't sound too bad, and I almost certainly will be adding a laptop this summer. I'll have to check for the NIC, no idea. I have a cousin about 5 hours away who was a computer geek long before there was a term for it. I'm planning on lining up a number of improvements and kidnapping his butt for a few days. Work slave!

I'm sure you know that if you do find such a photo it's almost certain to be a fake. Might still be worth a peek though...admire the mastery of the digital artist, y'know. [:-dev3]

Brian G.

I Done Got Some Smarter A'gin [:-propeller]

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More Opie-Dopie tech questions from the master of the genre, for whomever.

What is ethernet?

If I have a router, how many computers can be online at the same time? 1 or more than 1?

Does having a wireless router mean that I could use my laptop to go internet without plugging in physically?

I have 512 on the RAM (I think), I'm thinking more would be good for the faster DSL service...correct? If so, exactly how simple is installing it?

Brian G.

Hacking Away at the Jungle of My Computer Tech Ignorance [:-dunce]

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Brian,

Ethernet (the term) is used as a description of the protocol(format)of how the message gets sent. It is also used (incorrectly)(I do it too) as a description of the physical wiring to connect 2 or more computers.

If you purchase a 8 port router than you can have 7 computers networked together, the 8th port is used as an uplink to expand the network.

A wireless network (depends on the manufacturer) will allow up to (normally)255 computers or devices to access each other or the internet at the same time.

New laptops that have the "Centrino"chip by Intel have a built-in wireless "NIC" already and you do not need to purchase a PCMCIA NIC.

PCMCIA is the format of devices that plug into laptops, different size than desktop versions.(duh)The wireless standard is called 802.11(?)the (?) determines how fast the wireless exchange of information is. The latest and fastest is (G).

Yes, wireless means you can sit on the couch, go outside, work on your car in the driveway or watch tv while surfing the web. If your creative you could mount it on the lawn mower too!

Your 512MB of system memory does not affect the DSL download speed. It does effect how efficiently your programs run, and how many you can run at the same time. A balanced system works the best. Having said that, I will also say that in general having more system memory is better. Think of system memory as being the physical size of your desk. If you open a book or magazine it takes up desktop space. If you have more than 1 layer of papers on your desk then you have to move the ones on top to see the ones on the bottom. (swap files) Slows you down and clutters up the work area. The larger your work area the more papers you can access at once!

This website is for sharing information and helping each of us to become better at what we do. Computers are a large part of the reporting system and should be kept current like our inspection tools. Newer ones work faster and better. I appreciate everyones help with my questions too.

Thanks everyone,

Ron

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Last night we ran Norton and it found 3 infected files with the word "Trojan" in the title. I assume these would be Trojan horses. I've never found any of those before, and know very little about them. I just went over to Kim Komando's site and downloaded Zone Alarm firewall for free, in the hope I won't see another Trojan horse until I can arrange for the router, etc.

Ron (or whomever), what can you tell me about these things?

Brian G.

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Jeez, ran it again tonight and there were 6 more already. Identified as Trojan.ByteVerify, with 4 different "item" names (Beyond.class, BlackBox.class, Dummy.class, Verifyer.class). Does this mean anything to any of you computer geeks?

I ran a check after I installed the firewall, so hopefully I won't find anymore. We'll see.

Better watch out guys, this might be going on all over. If you have anti-virus software, update it and run it.

Brian G.

Supporting the Death Penalty for Hackers and Virus Creators [:-skull]

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