Archive for November, 2010



Why you should use both a hardware and software firewall on your system

Posted on November 29th, 2010 in Firewall | No Comments »

Making your computer system safe has gotten easier over the years. In the past, when the internet started to become available in most people households, it was hard for these people to try and protect their systems. The online security field was young and even the professionals at the time did not know the breadth of attacks that would happen. Now there are plenty of tools for both the professionals and the amateurs to use to be able to protect their system. One of the best tools that a person who is either can use to protect themselves is a firewall on their system. A firewall offers you unprecedented protection from the bad guys online. In the following paragraphs, we will talk about what a firewall is and we will also discuss the difference between software and a hardware firewall.

What exactly is a firewall?

There are many different types of attacks that can happen to your computer when you hook it up online. One of the earliest types of attacks is when people would try to gain access to your computer remotely. They would do this by trying to find a weak port on your system. A weak port means one that is open with no protection.  If the black hat hacker did not go in the port manually themselves, they would send in a software attack, such as a worm, to go through it. When professionals saw that this type of attack was becoming more prevalent, they started to create software that would protect the end users from it. That software was known as a firewall and it is what we use to this very day to protect our home and work networks. There are several different types of firewalls out there. Many security companies add their version of a firewall to their software protection suites. But the main thing that you should know besides the brand of a firewall is the difference between software and a hardware firewall.

What is the difference between a software and hardware firewall?

The differences are quite simple really and you can probably tell what they are just by the names. A hardware firewall is a firewall that is either on a dedicated machine just for the firewall or on the home router that you just bought. Hardware firewalls are considered the best when it comes to protecting your network and your system. If you are only going to have one of the two on your system then I would suggest a hardware firewall be active. A software firewall is one that you install on your computer system. It is also very useful and depending on which one that you install, can be very effective. With a software firewall, you may have more configuration control than a hardware firewall. The problem with a software firewall is that some attacks can get past it easier than a hardware firewall. It is easier to trick the software on a user’s machine than on a dedicated firewall machine.

If you want the best protection on your system then we suggest that you have both a hardware and a software firewall installed. That way you will have all of your ports on both the system and the network doubly protected.

A list of applications that you will need to secure your computers internet access

Posted on November 25th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

There are many applications that are out on the market right now. Some are free and others you will have to pay for. In those two categories there are certain breeds of applications that are more important than others. While some people are gamers and others need to be reminded of what recipes they can cook in the kitchen, there are some applications that are a must have on your machine. If you do not have them then you will leave yourself at risk while you are on the internet. And not just the internet. If you are on any network at all and you do not have certain tools then you are just asking for trouble. In this article we will take a look at some of the tools that you will need to protect yourself. Most of the tools on this list you may have heard of before but it does not hurt to be reminded of them. This is especially true if you have heard of them but have not installed them into your machine. So let’s take a quick look at some of the applications that you will need to be safe on the internet.

A good antivirus program

The top of our list is of course a good antivirus program. These days, you can never tell where a piece of software or a file has truly originated from so it is better to be safe than sorry. There are too many ways for the bad guys to be able to put bad things on your system. With a good antivirus program, you will be able to combat this type of intrusion very easily. Well, we shouldn’t say it will be easy but for the most part the new antivirus programs that are out on the market are very simple to use. Do not forget though, the job that they do is very complicated and they are helping you a great deal in the background. The best antivirus programs make you forget that they are there while at the same time protecting you from all of the dangers on the net.

A firewall to protect your system from intruders

If you have a computer that is connected to the internet then that means that you have a port open somewhere. It is the only way that your system would be able to connect, through an open port. This is why you must have a firewall installed on your system. A good firewall would be able to block the ports that are open that you do not necessarily want open. The bad guys are always scanning random IP addresses looking for one that has an open port available for them to get through. With a firewall, you are able to set aside those fears and block all the traffic that you do not want in your system. So when you are thinking about security, make sure that this is a program that is installed.

Bitlocker

If you have Windows 7 then you might want to think about getting the highest edition. This way you will be able to purchase a version that has support for bitlocker. Bitlocker is a program that allows you to protect the hardware of your machine. People will have to login with the right credentials to be able to use the hardware. If they do not then it remains inaccessible.

This is a small but good list of the types of software that you should have installed on your machine.

Is windows 7 a game changer when it comes to security?

Posted on November 23rd, 2010 in Security, Windows 7 | No Comments »

When you talk about security these days, you really have to add Windows 7 to the discussion. I know that it seems really weird to do so but Windows 7 is one of the most secure consumer grade operating systems on the market right now and you would be doing a disservice to you and your customer base if you did not discuss it. The security when it comes to the Windows operating system is really top notch compared to how it was in the past and the rest of the security community is starting to realize it. But if you are talking about purely the security aspects of Windows 7, is it truly able to be called a game changer? Is the security of the system any different than the other consumer grade operating systems that are on the market right now? In this article, we will take a look at that question and we will analyze to see if it is truly a game changer. If it is not, then does at least stay with the competition on that front.

The new security offerings that come with Windows 7

When we take a look at the system, we are looking at things that the Windows operating system did not have in the past. This is why so many security professionals like this version. They feel as if the system has caught up to the rest of the pack. There were so many things that were missing in the earlier iterations of Windows. When it came to security people were starting to wonder if Microsoft lacked the necessary tools on purpose. The one thing that changed their mind is when Windows started to offer a real firewall on the system. The firewall’s that the Windows operating system had in the past was barely functional. It would only monitor a certain section of the traffic that came in your system and not all of it. This changed with the last version of the Windows firewall. Now there is no need to download and install a third party’s firewall unless you just like it better.

Another thing that has changed recently for Windows is that Microsoft is now offering a fully functional antivirus suite on their web site. All you have to do is to go to their web site and download the product and the next thing that you know is that you are now protected. The people who make the antivirus suite also work with the operating system kernel creators so that they can make sure that their product is able to offer you full protection.

The last thing we will point out is that the premium version of Windows 7 now offers a new and improved version of Bitlocker. Bitlocker is a technology that allows you to lock down the hardware on your laptop. If the person who accesses the laptop does not have a proper password and username combination, they will not be able to use the machine. This is a huge leap forward when it comes to the security of your machine. Bitlocker is truly a game changing feature when it comes to the Windows operating system.

Is Windows 7 a game changer when it comes to the security of the operating system? In some ways yes it is and in some ways it is not. What we can say is that it is able to stand head to toe with everyone else on the market right now.

Make sure that the USB card that you plug into your computer is secure

Posted on November 19th, 2010 in Security | No Comments »

There are so many ways that we connect to the computer these days that it is a little bit scary. Even if you look at the average laptop, you will see a ton of connections that will allow you to hook the computer up to another device. You will see ports that will allow you to connect to the internet by use of a RJ-45 cable. You will also have a DVD drive on the side that will allow you to play and record movies but also insert data disk into the machine. You will also see HDMI ports that allow you to connect the computer to your HDTV screen as well. There is also another port that is better known. It is called the USB port. It is a port that allows you to connect a whole multitude of devices to your computer. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. In this article, we will talk about how this can be both.

Why is the USB connection both a good thing and a bad thing?

The reason why it is a good thing is because it allows you to connect a device that has a USB end to your computer instantly. You do not have to worry about if your computer is going to have the right physical plug or not. You will be able to quickly place the device in the socket and wait for it to install. This makes life using the computer a lot easier than it used to be. On older computers, to get this same kind of functionality, you had to rely on technology such as parallel ports and things of that manner. Now, thankfully that is no longer the case.

The technology also has its downside as well. While the ability to be able to connect any device quickly to your computer is something that we all should be happy about, it also leaves you vulnerable as well. This is especially true for the device called a USB thumb drive. These devices are like mini hard drives. They allow you to store all kinds of different data to your computer and as soon as you put it in the USB plug, this data is exposed to your computer. If you do not scan that USB device before you use any of the files on there, you can be opening yourself up to an attack.

How do you protect yourself from the USB device?

It is just about common sense. Make sure that you scan an unknown USB thumb drive just like you would any other file on your computer. And that goes for external hard drives as well. Any device that allows you to store data while hooking up to your computer via USB needs to be scanned before using. This is the only way that you can be sure that your computer will remain infection free.

The USB thumb drive and hard drive are great devices and for the most part are safe. Just make sure that if you are putting a strange device on your computer from someone else, that you scan it first.

Are system level attacks still a concern with windows 7?

Posted on November 17th, 2010 in Security, Windows 7 | No Comments »

It has been out to the public for almost a year and the reviews are in. Windows 7 is one of the most popular operating systems that Microsoft has ever released. And not only is it popular, it is the most secured operating system that they released as well. In the past, when you used Windows products there was always a hesitation when you went online that you were going to become infected by something out there. While it is still possible, you are nowhere near as vulnerable as you used to be. But there are still some concerns when it comes to Windows 7 security. It is actually a problem with all operating systems and not just Windows 7. You have to wonder to yourself if low level system attacks are still a problem that you have to worry about. While there are all sorts of attacks out there, low level system attacks are some of the most dangerous.
 

What is a low level system attack?

There are several layers to a computer system. During your use of the computer throughout the day, you probably only see two layers that you worry about. You see the software side, which includes the operating system and all of the programs that are running on it. You also see the hardware side, which if you ever open up your computer is the motherboard, hard drive, and all of the other things that are under the cover. But these are not the only layers of the computer. They are just what you would call the base layer. They both have several layers inside of them as well. The layer that we are going to focus on now is the system level of the operating system. This is a layer that is able to control the inner parts of your operating system. This why attacks on this layer can be so damaging. When you take control of a person’s operating system, you can do a lot of damage. Better yet, if the black hat hacker is smart, they can get a lot of information as well. System level attacks are a real problem.

Does Windows 7 solve this problem?

Windows 7 does not eradicate the problem but they make it a lot harder for attacks like this to happen. Microsoft has implemented several security features that will allow you to defeat such intrusions in your system. Form the antivirus programs that they allow you to download and install for free, to the permission based installer on the system; these are all things that have helped the fight. Now, whenever a file that can be damaging, is changed by a program, Windows 7 will ask you permission first before the change is allowed. This is a great way to stop most of the system level attacks that happen. They usually go after low level operating system files and if you are notified beforehand then you can stop it. 
 
Windows does help a lot when it comes to this problem. If you want to make sure that you are safe, keep the permissions turned on in Windows 7 and install an updated antivirus program.