Wednesday, 29 October 2003

Computer Security

For the less-than-expert Computer User.

That's the challenge posed by an article in The Register.

Anyone connected to the Internet, especially if they have Broadband, and doubly especially if they're using a Microsoft Operating System (that is, "Windows" of any description), should have a Firewall. No exceptions.

But how do you explain what a Firewall is, and why it's needed, when your audience really doesn't care about their Computer except as a means to do things like surf the Net? My interest in cars is much the same - does it go from point A to point B, is it easy to park, does it have enough space inside for my usual needs, what's the fuel economy, is it reliable, is it easy to drive. I don't care if it has Electronic Fuel Injection, Macpherson struts and a double-overhead cam with shimmied flunge-sprockets. Or not.

From the article mentioned above :
We can't just ignore the problems with insecurity that our non-IT friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances have with their computers. If their machines are compromised, we feel the effects, whether we realize it or not.

We feel the effects when we end up spending several hours each week doing pro bono IT work at the homes of the people we know (I've tried sending my Mom a bill, but she never pays, the deadbeat).
Been there, done that.
We feel the effects when the Internet slows to a crawl due to a sudden explosion of traffic caused by a particularly-virulent virus or worm.

We feel the effects when we get even more spam, sent from compromised zombies to everyone else on the Net, or when those zombies are used in DDOS attacks on anti-spam Web sites.

We feel the effects when zombies owned by our unknowing friends and family are used to secretly host scams, or porn sites ... or worse.
The solution? Education.
...I can't teach my students everything, but I try to teach them something. Every security professional needs to do the same. We're at the forefront, like it or not, and it's up to us to help lessen the myriad of problems we see around us. Like it or not, we need to become educators - permanent educators - or we may find ourselves refloozling those hossenblobbets with tinklewickets one too many times.
I've already mentioned a free online Virus scanner in a previous post. And the Firewall I use is Zone Alarm.

I urge any reader who wants an explanation of what a Virus Scanner is, what a Firewall is, and why they're so important - and how to install them - to e-mail me.

No comments: