4 September 2000


Net Security

I spent much of today reading about net security and fooling around with Zone Alarm, a nifty, free firewall program.  Like most people, I've never really thought much about net security.  That's why today's reading was a little chilling.  If you're one of those people who think, "I'm just using a dialup account, I don't need a firewall" you are wrong.  After installing zone alarm, I found that I was most likely the victim of a port scanner at least twice today while using my dialup account (and several other port calls near the beginning of the connection, indicating most likely leftover calls from the previous person on the dialup IP address).  I also discovered that, for some reason, my simple little notepad program keeps trying to access a Chinese domain!  Yes, notepad.  A further peek at notepad shows that it is carrying a different date than the standard, Windows 98 SE notepad.  Luckily, Zone Alarm caught this and wouldn't let it do a damn thing.  It's not showing any sort of virus infection.  I've renamed the program for now, and will most likely write over it with the proper Win 98 SE version.  What exactly is going on?  I'm not entirely sure.  But I never would have noticed it had I not spent most of my day checking out stuff like this.

I also found out that way too many Win 98 systems come set up with TCP/IP protocol bound to EVERYTHING, including the Client for Microsoft Networking and File and Print Sharing.  Yep, that's right.  Your TCP/IP protocol -- which lets you communicate over the net -- often is bound to File and Print Sharing on Win98 systems right out of the factory, essentially meaning that if you are not running a good firewall, and anyone were to use one of numerous port scanning programs to find your system hooked to the net, you've essentially declared to the internet world that you are willing to share your local resources!  In other words, anyone with a free program downloaded off a hacker site could map a logical drive on his system to YOUR system and have full access.  Scary!  In fact, it should be enough to send you right now to check your network settings and unbind TCP/IP protocols from file and print sharing if they aren't already!  And then go download Zone Alarm at Zonelabs.

For those of you with high speed connections who don't have a firewall of any sort, definitely download one.

That's Kev's tech wisdom for the day!  I didn't do much else of note today.  I intended to work some on the dissertation this weekend, but just decided to enjoy my three day weekend and get back in the swing of everything -- gym, dissertation, work -- tomorrow.  I should get in a good month of dissertation work before taking off on a much-needed backpacking trip.  

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