Misconceptions Running Rampant
After reading this topic I noticed many misconceptions. There are a lot of questions and things like I heard from a friend who has this friend kind of thing. It is actually quite simple; As far as security goes If you do not need or use the wireless feature disable it. If you do use it then make the best possible use of what security systems you have, but know that there is no 100% secure method to protect any computer except to cut all other connections. This means that if you use wireless routes or devices then there is always a way break the security. It may surprise you what a criminal hacker can do but have you check the news lately? There was recently a criminal who broke into T-Mobiles network and hacked Paris Hiltons Cell phone (they are still investigating) and another incident where someone hacked T-Mobile and stole 400 names with social security numbers. Here is the C-Net News story about it. http://news.cbsi.com/Paris+Hiltons+cell+phone+hacked/2100-7349_3-5584691.html
T-Mobile spends more money on security every year then most people will earn in their life times, and they (like anyone else can not guarantee 100% security.) Even if you do not use wireless routers, just simply connecting to the internet exposes you to the possibility of being hacked.
The common feature of the router that will help you with security is disabling the wireless first of all. If you do not need it then turn it off and it is the most secure way to protect your internet connections from outside intruders. Also learn more about the built in security that your router may offer like ssid, mac address filtering and disabling broadcast. NAT is a feature on most routers that can help secure the computers you have connected to the routers. Local security (protecting the information on your computer itself) is equally important. This is where firewalls generally come into play. Also one of the most important things you can do to protect personal information on your computer is to stay current with your operating system updates. Windows especially, Microsoft releases frequent security updates that fix security holes in the Windows Operating system; and keeping your updates current is a great defense. Microsoft has included a feature recently called Automatic updates that when enabled with either notify you of new updates or automatically download and install the updates for you. To turn this feature on with Windows XP go to the Control Panel open the System icon and click on the tab at the top that says Automatic Updates and then select the option that works the best for you.
Other important things are anti-virus software, as well as spy ware and ad ware detectors. These different software programs search out the various malicious programs that can infect your computer and either send out your personal information or help a criminal hacker penetrate your computer directly to steal your personal information or destroy it all together. It is very important that you also keep these programs updated also because as criminals find new ways of invading your privacy and your personal information these programs need to be updated so they can stop the new ways also. There are some great free programs that can protect your computer. For anti-virus I recommend AVG by Grisoft. http://free.grisoft.com/softw/70free/setup/avg70free_300a456.exe this link will start the download for the free antivirus software, or your can go to http://www.grisoft.com and find it if you do not like direct download links. For spy ware I recommend Spybot Search & Destroy by PepiMK. http://users.belgacom.net/bn657515/spybot/spybot-downloading.htm this link will start the download for the free spy ware software, or your can go to http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html and find it if you do not like direct download links. Finally for ad ware I recommend Ad-aware SE Personal by Lavasoft. http://dw.cbsi.com/redir?pid=10319876&merid=69274&mfgid=69274&lop=link&edId=3&siteId=4&oId=3002-8022_4-10319876&ontId=8022&destUrl=ftp%3A%2F%2Fftp.download.com%2Fpub%2Fwin95%2Futilities%2Faawsepersonal.exe this link will start the download for the free ad ware software, or your can go to http://www.lavasoftusa.com and find it if you do not like direct download links.
You can also use the built in local security features of Windows XP like file sharing and local file security but these can be complex and require a bit of time and patience to understand and learn.
The most important thing you can ever do is be wary of what you do online. Avoid high risk sites; the obvious ones are sites like pornography, and warez/serial/crack sites that allow you download Pirated (Illegal) copies of Software, as well as Serial/Product ID numbers (The code you enter to allow a program to be installed on your computer), and hacker programs that allow you to make the programs believe they are valid. But on many semi reputable sites you can still be infected with malicious programs. And if you do not know the person sending email NEVER download the attachments. You should even be careful about emails you may think are from people you know. No reputable company will has you to provide personal information through email. A more recent scam is to send an email to you with a link to what you think is a website you deal with and trust. They hope to get you to enter your information directly to them on their website thinking it is legit. Be watchful because these people carefully reproduce almost everything on the real website, but when in doubt dont use their links and open a browser and type in the companies website your self. Do not copy and paste the address from any suspicious email. Also if it is a secure website such as your bank, credit card or any thing dealing with your personal information watch what the address bar says. You can tell it is a secure website using an encrypted connection if it says https:// at the beginning. Just a few months ago someone sent me an email that appeared to be from an online bank I use in everyway but the link they had in the email was http://mybankname.com/login instead of https://nybankname.com/login. The letter s that was missing told me right away that it was not a secure website and so even though it looked acted and in everyway seemed like my banks website there was no way it could be because it was secure. Many browsers like Internet Explore (a padlock icon appears at the bottom right corner of the window) shows you an icon on the status bar along the bottom to tell you if you are connected to a secure site. The best rule is that if you are not sure then dont and if you have any questions about it because it seems like it might be valid you should contact the company in question the same way you have always done in the past and ask them.
A final note regarding who is responsible for what happens on your internet connection. If you carefully read you ISPs (internet service provider) Terms of Service you will find that the person whose name is listed as the account owner is responsible for all traffic on the internet connection. This means that if someone does something illegal while connected to or through your internet connection that you will be held legally and financially responsible regardless if you knowing allowed it or not. This means if you let a friend use your computer and he downloads or uploads something illegal you will be the one that gets in trouble for it. The same thing goes for someone that steals access to your internet connection and commits a crime; they will be looking at your name on the internet connection as the person to go after. Someone commented that in this thread that they do not care about their internet connection and only worry about their personal information. This is incredibly not smart. Many hackers intentionally seek out un-secure or under-secured wireless internet connections just for the purpose of using them to break into a company like T-Mobile because they know that they did it on their own internet connection they will leave electronic foot prints in the form IP addresses and other types of information that will lead investigators straight back to them. Here is a Power Point Presentation that is online that explains a lot about computer crimes. http://www.umassd.edu/ecommerce/cybercrime.ppt Please note that you must have a version of MS office with Power Point to view this slide show. Also just read about the many lawsuits the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has filed against the public as reported by Wired online Magazine at http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,61454,00.html.
What you do not know can hurt you, and so you should do your best to be informed about what is happing with any internet connection that you are responsible for.
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