Security is the Number One Issue Online

by: Terry Ward

It should be a legal requirement for your ISP to protect every surfer, provide spam filtering that actually works and a defence against phishing that is more than a warning letter reminding you that emails asking for passwords should be deleted, but its not.

If you surf it is your responsibility to protect your online security. Especially if your connection is a wireless one.

You have no more important tasks before attaching yourself to the "World Wide Web" than the installation of a safe browser, firewall, block list and an anti-virus solution. You should also have a hosts file, and you should have made at least basic changes to the default configuration of your browser. The pitiful offerings that came with your Operating system are Dodos and should be considered as dead as them. Patches are continuously being introduced to the main interfaces and they always come too late.

You should be provided with the basic tools and information to have a good grasp of what is needed to survive in the tangle of bad websites, unscrupulous coders and thieving parasites that inhabit certain parts of the Net. The fact that you don't is, in this author’s opinion, scandalous. Secondly, the large number of sites offering "free malware, adware, trojan and virus detection" reflects the shortcomings mentioned above. Of course only the download and scan are free. When, and I mean when not if, these "free downloads" find something bad you will be invited to pay for their removal. Doubly scandalous as the very best solutions are available completely without cost.

So, which defences do you need and which do you need to replace? The firewall that is part of your OS, if you should be so "lucky", is lame and leaks like a badly designed nappy and should be discarded with the same haste. A similar fate should befall your browser. And one of the greatest ironies of our time is that the average user has to go online to get a decent anti-virus solution, privacy protection and, most importantly, a fully functioning firewall.

You should know that the criminals who create botnets have, to hand, the total list of addresses assigned to all the ISP’s in the world and they own such powerful computers and connections that your machine will be compromised inside 3 minutes of your being online. It takes longer than that for even a seasoned, read scarred, net veteran to assemble, let alone download, the necessary tools to prevent disaster. For disaster it most certainly is if you are caught with your pants down and some idiot has your number and has infiltrated your computer before you have your shields up.

They can prevent you from even visiting an anti-virus provider’s website. They ensure that their trojan code is hidden from your investigations and then utilize your CPU power and connection speed for their own ends. They riddle your hard-drive with spurious nonsense and defeat an intelligent attempt at their removal. In the wink of an eye your once clean machine is less powerful, your internet connection is slower and your software, including your personal files, in more danger than when you plugged it into your phone line.

Please have a CD, with some tools on it, to install immediately after you put the Operating System on your computer and before you even think about instant messaging your friends to tell them that you are back after the bad guys trashed your previous setup. The best free tools, and this time I mean totally and completely without cost, are available at my main website Download the latest versions, at a friend's house if need be, and learn how they update themselves to remain one step ahead of the very bad people who would hurt you if they could.